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U.S. Mortgage Rates Little Changed With 30-Year at 4.4%

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Mortgage rates in the U.S. were little changed as investors wait for signals from the Federal Reserve about its plans to scale back bond purchases.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage held at 4.4 percent, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate climbed to 3.44 percent from 3.43 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen from near-record lows in May amid anticipation that the Federal Reserve may begin reducing its bond purchases at next month’s policy meeting. The 10-year Treasury yield, a benchmark for consumer debt including home loans, jumped two days ago to the highest level this month.

“We’re in a little bit of the summer doldrums,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com., a Riverdale, New Jersey-based mortgage-data firm. “We are still waiting for clear signals that the economy is running fast enough to help foster the Fed into a move as early as September. We’re not getting those signals, we’re getting sort of a mix and match.”

The central bank will probably begin to slow its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases next month, according to 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg on Aug. 9-13. The Fed may start by tapering purchases to a $75 billion pace, the median estimate of 48 economists.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of home-loan applications dropped 4.7 percent in the week ended Aug. 9. The purchase measure fell to its weakest reading since February, while the refinance gauge dropped to the lowest since April 2011, the Washington-based trade group reported yesterday.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has climbed from 3.35 percent in early May. It’s below the average of about 5.3 percent for the past 10 years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Dexheimer in New York at edexheimer@bloomberg.net

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

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