Mortgage rates climb to 2-month high

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U.S. mortgage rates reached their highest level in two months this week, as the 30-year mortgage climbed above the 4% mark.

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Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to an average 4.03% from 3.96% last week. It stood at 3.42% a year ago and averaged a record low 3.65% in 2016.

The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate home loans, popular with homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, rose to 3.29% last week from 3.22%.

Mortgage rates still remain historically low, even though the Federal Reserve has begun to ratchet up short-term interest rates. In testimony to Congress this week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen raised the possibility that the Fed would consider slowing the pace of its interest rate increases if inflation remained persistently below its target level.

However, the central bank appears ready to begin unwinding its $4.5 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities later this year.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

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The average fee for a 30-year mortgage fell to 0.5 point from 0.6 point last week. The fee on 15-year loans was unchanged at 0.5 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.28% from 3.21% last week. The fee held steady at 0.5 point.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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