Picture: Charisse Says

Washington - According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.9 percent with an average 0.5 point. [Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.] It was 3.91 percent a week ago and 3.56 percent a year ago.

The 30-year fixed rate has remained within a tight band the past five weeks. Since falling below 4 percent in late May, it has fluctuated between 3.89 percent and 3.95 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate average slid to 3.17 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.18 percent a week ago and 2.83 percent a year ago. 

The five-year adjustable rate average dipped to 3.14 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.15 percent a week ago and 2.74 percent a year ago.

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"Mortgage rates are continuing to hold at year-to-date lows amidst ongoing economic uncertainty," Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.

It doesn't appear home loan rates will make any big moves in the foreseeable future. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found half of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week.

"From an economic news perspective, I don't expect anything that should move the dial going into the end of the month," said Jim Sahnger, mortgage planner, Schaffer Mortgage.

Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index a measure of total loan application volume - increased 0.6 percent. The refinance index rose 2 percent, while the purchase index dropped 1 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 46.6 percent of all applications. "Overall mortgage application volume reached its highest level since mid-November following the election during last week, as the relatively low rates continued to encourage late-to-the-game refinance borrowers and assisted those ready to purchase," said Lynn Fisher, MBA vice president of research and economics.

"Along with an increase in refinance applications last week, purchase applications remained in strong territory, up 9 percent relative to the same week last year."

WASHINGTON POST