Construction loses jobs

Freddie Mac says mortgage rates edged higher this week amid mixed economic news, with housing starts rising to their highest pace since February 2008. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

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Mortgage rates rose a bit this week following positive news on home building, with Freddie Mac saying lenders were offering a 30-year fixed-rate loan at an average of 4.47%, up from 4.42% last week.

The average for a 15-year fixed was 3.51%, up from 3.43% last week, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. Its survey assumes borrowers have solid credit and income, provide at least 20% down payments or home equity, and pay less than 1% of the loan amount in lender fees and points.

Start rates on popular types of adjustable rate loans also were higher, Freddie Mac said.

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The lenders were surveyed before the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would reduce its bond purchases, a program designed to keep long-term interest rates low.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for fixed mortgage rates, moved higher Wednesday and again Thursday morning on that news.

The Fed noted that the economy was expanding modestly but that unemployment remained elevated. The mixed news was reflected in a Labor Department report Thursday saying initial claims for unemployment jumped last week to the highest level since March.

In a positive sign, housing permits and starts were both higher, with starts rising in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000, the highest rate since February 2008. 

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate Chart

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate data by YCharts

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