WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose last week to their highest levels in two years, driven by heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases later this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year loans jumped to 4.58 percent, up from 4.40 percent the previous week. The average rate on 15-year loans rose to 3.60 percent from 3.44 percent. Both averages are the highest since July 2011.
Rates have risen more than a full percentage point since May. The previous week’s spike comes after more Fed members signaled they could be open to reducing the bond purchases as early as September. The purchases have helped keep long-term interest rates low, including mortgage rates.
Despite the increase, mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. And recent reports suggest the jump in rates has yet to sap the housing recovery’s momentum.
In July, previously occupied homes in the sold at the fastest pace since 2009. Sales jumped 6.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.4 million.
The average fee for 30-year mortgages rose to 0.8 point from 0.7 point. The fee for 15-year loans increased to 0.7 point from 0.6 point.
The average doesn’t include points. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.