Mortgage rates held steady this week as mixed employment reports generated uncertainty over the direction of the economy.

None of the three major mortgage types changed more than a single basis point (0.01 percent) from their averages of last week, according to today's weekly Freddie Mac rate survey. Average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were up to 4.40 percent, compared to 4.39 percent last week, while the average on 15-year fixed-rate home loans was unchanged at 3.43 percent.

Both remain about one-tenth of a percentage point below their recent highs reached in mid-July, after jumping a full percent in May.

ARMs up a point

Initial rates on 5-year Treasury indexed adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) moved up a single point to 3.19 percent. Both fixed-rates include an average of 0.7 points in fees and discounts, while the ARM includes 0.5 points.

"Mortgage rates were relatively unchanged following a mixed employment report for July," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, citing Labor Department statistics." Even though the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in July, which was the lowest since December 2008, the economy added only 161,000 jobs, short of the market consensus forecast."

The Labor Department also reported last week that hourly wages fell in July for the first time since last fall, dropping 0.1 percent for the month.

Published on February 8, 2011