Interest rates offered on long-term mortgage loans this week fell to their lowest point in 13 weeks, according to data from mortgage finance company Freddie Mac, as economic news indicated some continued weak spots in the economy.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.41 percent, excluding fees, uring the week ended April 18, down from 3.43 percent the previous week and down from 3.90 percent one year ago. The last time the 30-year FRM was below 3.41 percent was the week of January 17 when it fell to 3.38 percent.
Rates on 15-year FRMs also slipped in the latest week, averaging 2.64 percent, down from 2.65 percent and 3.13 percent one year earlier.
“Mortgage rates nudged lower this week as consumer spending showed signs of weakness,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft in a statement. “Retail sales contracted for the second time in three months, falling 0.4 percent in March. In addition, the University of Michigan reported their Consumer Sentiment Index dropped 6.3 points in April to settle at 72.3, its lowest level since July. The April reading snapped a streak of three consecutive gains.”
Record low mortgage interest rates have been helping to prop up the U.S. housing market over the past two years. The last time the 30-year FRM rate averaged above 4 percent was over a year ago during the week of March 22, 2012 when the rate was 4.08 percent. And the last time that rate was above 5 percent was a year before that, during the week of February 17, 2011. The Federal Reserve has been keeping rates at rock bottom on purpose to spur economic growth and has committed to holding them there until improving conditions warrant a change.