Mortgage rates stable as employment improves

In the wake of positive job market reports, mortgage rates edged higher, while other rates remained unchanged during the week ending February 9.

In the wake of positive job market reports, mortgage rates edged higher, while other rates remained unchanged during the week ending February 9.

Last week, mortgage rates reached new all-time lows after the Federal Reserve announced it plans to keep them affordable in order to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages, while making homeownership more affordable for borrowers who were previously priced out of the market. The Fed stated that rates will remain close to current levels until at least 2014.

According to mortgage data from Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage during the week averaged 3.87 percent, indicating no change from the previous week. Last year at this time, the rate averaged 5.05 percent.

Meanwhile, the average rate for a 15-year FRM inched higher to 3.16 percent from 3.14 percent the prior week. A year ago at this time, the rate averaged 4.29 percent.

Additionally, the rate for a 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage increased slightly from 2.8 to 2.83 percent, while the average rate for a 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM increased to 2.78 percent from 2.76 percent the previous week.

The report indicated that improvement in the nation's employment rate could be responsible for some of the rates increasing during the week.

"A strong January employment report added upward pressure to most mortgage rates this week," said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. "The economy gained 243,000 jobs last month, the largest monthly gain since April 2011, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, which was the lowest since February 2009." 

Meanwhile, a recent report from the Labor Department showed that the amount of jobless claims decreased during the week ending February 4. According to the report, claims fell 4 percent to an estimated 358,000.

The decrease surprised some industry experts, as a recent survey conducted by Econoday anticipated 370,000 jobless claims after receiving a range of estimated between 365,000 and 400,000. However, despite jobless claims outperforming expectations, analysts indicated that an economy with claims below 400,000 is a sign of an improving economy, as employment opportunities create safety and soundness for a greater number of households.



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