US mortgage rates rise after 6-week decline

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Mortgage rates rose for the first time this week after a six-week decline amid signs of a robust economic recovery.

However, average rates on home loans remain historically low at less than 3 percent.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average for a 30-year mortgage jumped to 2.87 percent from 2.77 percent last week. The base rate, which peaked this year at 3.18 percent in April, was 2.96 percent a year ago.

The rate on a 15-year loan, a popular mortgage refinancing option among homeowners, increased from 2.10 percent to 2.15 percent.

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Uncertainty over the rapidly spreading variant of the Delta coronavirus and its potential impact on economic recovery in recent weeks has been the backdrop holding back mortgage rates.

The government said last Friday that US employers added 943,000 jobs in July and brought the unemployment rate down to 5.4 percent. It was another sign that the economy is recovering with amazing vigor from COVID-19 and appears to have contributed to the rise in mortgage rates.

However, there is growing concern that the Delta option will slow recovery. Worryingly, the resurgent virus could discourage people from going out and spending and provoking a new round of blackouts or other restrictions.

The Labor Department compiled data for an employment report in mid-July, before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course and recommended even vaccinated people to resume wearing masks indoors in places where the option increases the spread of infections.

A new government report on Thursday showed that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight week as employers struggle to fill record numbers of job openings and meet a surge in consumer demand. The number of applications for unemployment benefits fell to 375,000 from 387,000 in the previous week.

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