The Wall Street Journal

13 May  2011

Mortgage rates declined again this week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, as Treasury yields fell.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.63% for the week ended Thursday, down from the prior week’s 4.71% average and 4.93% a year ago.

Until recently, mortgages rates had been rising this year. But a batch of mixed economic reports and weakness in the stock and commodities markets has increased demand for the safe haven of U.S. government debt, pushing down the yields to which mortgage rates are generally tied.

“Mortgage rates continued to decline this week following a mixed employment report,” Freddie Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said, noting that hiring was the strongest in 11 months in April, though the unemployment rate rose to 9%, its highest reading since January.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were 3.82%, down from 3.89% the previous week and 4.3% a year earlier. Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.41%, down from 3.47% the prior week and 3.95% a year earlier. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs were 3.11%, down from 3.14% the prior week and 4.02% a year earlier.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages required payment of an average 0.7 point, while the five-year adjustable required 0.6 point and one-year adjustable required a 0.5 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.