April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Mortgage rates in the U.S. rose for the first time in four weeks, increasing borrowing costs as demand for housing is slow to recover.
The average rate for a 30-year mortgage climbed to 3.9 percent in the week ended today from 3.88 percent, Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate rose to 3.13 percent from 3.11 percent, the lowest in the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company’s records.
While the housing market is improving by some measures, weak job growth and stricter lending standards are weighing on a recovery. Sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in March for the third time in the last four months, declining 2.6 percent from February to a 4.48 million annual rate, the National Association of Realtors reported today.
“We are in the very early stages of a recovery,” Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “For the single-family market, we can barely call it a recovery. Activity is increasing but just very slowly.”
Homeowners are taking advantage of low borrowing costs to reduce their monthly payments. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of refinancing applications surged 14 percent in the period ended April 13, the Washington-based group reported yesterday. The purchasing gauge fell 11 percent.
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