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Mortgage rates inch higher
30-year fixed mortgage drifts up slightly but refinancing remains hot.
October 3, 2002: 12:02 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Mortgage rates changed little this week, but the refinancing boom continues to fuel the housing market, according to reports from two industry firms.

Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year mortgage averaged 6.01 percent in the week ending Oct. 4, with an average of 0.5 of a point payable up front to the lender. The rate rose from an average 5.99 percent last week but remained far below its 6.64 percent average a year ago.

A study by found that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points, or three-one-hundredths of a percent, to 6.06 percent.

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The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.40 percent, virtually unchanged from 5.41 percent last week and down from 6.11 percent last year. The 15-year mortgage averaged 0.5 of a point payable up front to the lender, Freddie Mac said.

Bankrate said the 15-year fixed mortgage, which is often used for refinancing, rose one basis point to 5.48 percent.

Meanwhile, one-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), loosely indexed to the 10-year Treasury note, averaged 4.29 percent with an average 0.5 of a point due up front, up from last week's 4.22 percent average, Freddie Mac said. A year ago the one-year ARM averaged 5.34 percent.

"Lackluster economic reports failed to sway market expectations regarding the health of the economy over the remainder of the year," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. "Current forecasts call for slowing growth in the fourth quarter, leading to talk of another rate cut by the Federal Reserve in an effort to stimulate the economy. As a result, mortgage rates were little changed."

Bankrate said most of its mortgage consultants believe rates are likely to remain low for the next five weeks.

"Weak economic data has been countered by Fannie Mae reducing its interest rate exposure and temporarily defused tensions surrounding the Iraq situation," said Greg McBride, Bankrate's senior financial analyst. "However, disappointing corporate earnings could drive investors back to Treasurys in coming weeks."

Freddie Mac's average mortgage rates are based on a survey of 125 lenders nationwide. The rates include those on mortgages accepted by borrowers with good credit ratings who place a 20 percent down payment on their homes, according to Freddie Mac. The total amount of each mortgage considered for the survey doesn't exceed a $300,700 limit.

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Freddie Mac (FRE: down $1.36 to $57.64, Research, Estimates), or Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., is a publicly traded company the government established in 1970 to provide a flow of funds to mortgage lenders. It buys mortgages from banks, bundles them and then resells them as mortgage-backed securities.

Its products, and the products of other similar entities, have become increasingly popular as an alternative to government-backed bonds, particularly with international investors.

Bankrate said it reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 50 states and provides financial applications and information to its clients.  Top of page

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