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U.S. Mortgage Rates Rise, With 30-Year at a 2-Month High

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. mortgage rates rose, pushing borrowing costs for a 30-year loan to a two-month high, after a jump in yields for the Treasuries that guide consumer debt.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 3.59 percent in the week ended today from 3.51 percent, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate increased to 2.77 percent from 2.69 percent.

Yields for 10-year U.S. Treasuries topped 2 percent yesterday for the first time since March after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told Congress that the central bank will scale back stimulus efforts if the employment outlook shows sustainable improvement. Home-loan rates increased for a third week after hovering close to record lows early this month.

“A sustained move upward for a number of weeks can push buyers off the fence,” Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com, a Riverdale, New Jersey-based mortgage-information website, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It can be a signal that the time is becoming right to move before rates go up further.”

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climbed to an annual pace of 4.97 million in April, the most since November 2009, even as tight inventory and strict borrowing rules constrained deals, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.

Rising rates are threatening to restrain refinancing. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of home-loan applications dropped the most in almost five months in the week ended May 17, with the refinancing gauge falling 11.7 percent.

The record rate for a 30-year mortgage is 3.31 percent, reached in November, according to Freddie Mac. The 15-year average fell to a record-low 2.56 percent this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in Boston at pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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