US long-term mortgage rates rise, with 30-year at 3.56%

In this Sept. 3, 2019, photo a sign rests in front of a newly constructed home, in Westwood, Mass. On Thursday, Sept. 12, Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON — U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week but remained at historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.56% from 3.49% last week. Average rates on the benchmark loan have remained below 3.6% for four straight weeks — the first time that's happened since the fourth quarter of 2016.

A year ago, the 30-year rate stood at 4.6%.

The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans rose to 3.09% from 3% last week.

Mortgage rates fell sharply over the summer as a slowing global economy and tensions from the trade war between the U.S. and China have caused interest rates on government bonds to tumble. The yields on government bonds, especially the 10-year Treasury note, influence long-term mortgage rates.

The trade concerns have appeared to ease in recent days and sentiment has brightened in global stock markets. Interest rates on government bonds have ticked up. China said Wednesday that it will exempt U.S. industrial grease and some other imports from tariff increases, though it kept in place penalties on soybeans and other major U.S. exports ahead of negotiations next month.

As a gesture of "goodwill," President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the U.S. agreed to a two-week delay in a planned increase in tariffs on some Chinese imports. The moves could indicate that both sides are settling in for an extended conflict even as they prepare for talks in Washington aimed at ending the dispute that threatens global economic growth.

Investors continue to expect the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its policymaking meeting next week in another bid by the central bank to help maintain U.S. economic growth. The Fed lowered its benchmark interest rate in July by a quarter point, its first cut in a decade.

Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week to compile its mortgage rate figures.

The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged this week at 0.5 point.

The average fee for the 15-year mortgage fell to 0.5 point from 0.6 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 3.36% from 3.30% last week. The fee slipped to 0.3 point from 0.4 point.

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This story has been updated to correct that the Fed lowered, not raised, its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a decade in July.

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