Mortgage rates bounce up from last week’s record low

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Mortgage rates rose this week, according to a Bankrate survey released Wednesday. The increase reflects a more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy.

The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.99 percent from last week’s record low of 2.93 percent, according to Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. The 15-year fixed also rose, edging up to 2.42 percent from the previous week’s 2.37 percent.

Bankrate includes origination points and other fees in its figure. The 30-year fixed-rate loans in this week’s survey included an average total of 0.31 discount and origination points.

 

Mortgage rates have been in steady decline since the coronavirus recession struck in the spring of 2020, a trend that has helped drive the surprisingly strong housing market. The downward trend in mortgage rates reflects mixed signals from the economy. A recent rise coronavirus cases undermined hopeful signs that COVID-19 vaccines soon would curb the pandemic. The economic recovery so far has been uneven and incomplete.

In one sign of optimism, the 10-year Treasury yield, a key indicator for mortgage rates, has held above 1 percent. With Democrats taking control of the White House and Congress, the logic goes, a generous stimulus bill will follow. The Labor Department releases the official unemployment rate for January, and no matter how the numbers look, they could put upward pressure on rates.

“Whichever way the jobs report goes, it argues for higher rates. A bad report boosts the odds of more significant stimulus, and a strong report elevates the talk of quicker recovery,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

Half of mortgage experts polled by Bankrate expect rates to rise in the coming week. Not everyone is optimistic, however.

“There is no significant change in respect to what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to the economy,” says Jeff Lazerson of MortgageGrader.

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Written by
Jeff Ostrowski
Senior mortgage reporter
Jeff Ostrowski covers mortgages and the housing market. Before joining Bankrate in 2020, he wrote about real estate and the economy for the Palm Beach Post and the South Florida Business Journal.