WASHINGTON – Average long-term mortgage rates dipped lower this week as economic prospects continued to be muted amid a wave of new delta variant coronavirus cases. They remained under 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported the average rate for a 30-year mortgage edged down to 2.86% from 2.88% last week.
That’s close to where the benchmark rate stood at this time last year, 2.87%.
It peaked this year at 3.18% in April. Home loan rates fell in the early summer and then remained steady despite increases in inflation.
The rate for a 15-year loan, a popular option for homeowners refinancing their mortgages, fell to 2.12% from 2.19% last week.
Anxiety abounds that the highly contagious delta variant could cause the economic recovery from the pandemic to stall by reducing employment and dampening consumer spending. Vaccine hesitancy has been cited by economists as a significant factor after the government reported this month that employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, far short of the 1 million or so added in each of the previous two months.
A new government report Thursday showed that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits moved up last week to 332,000 from a pandemic low, a sign that the spread of the delta variant may have slightly increased layoffs.
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