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Mortage Rates Hold Steady

Thirty-year mortgage rates stayed below 7 percent, barely changed from last week, Freddie Mac, the private lending company, reported Thursday.

The average 30-year fixed rate rose to 6.92 percent from 6.91 percent last week. The nationwide average rate has stayed below 7 percent since June 11. A year ago, the 30-year rate averaged 7.46 percent.

Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages edged slightly higher to 6.61 percent from 6.6 percent last week. This week last year, 15-year mortgages were at 6.99 percent. Fifteen-year mortgages are often used for refinancing.

One-year adjustable-rate mortgage rates fell to 5.58 percent from 5.6 percent last week. A year ago, the ARM was 5.56 percent.

All of the rates have average fees and points of 1.1, also consistent with patterns shown over the last few months. Fees and points are charges consumers must pay when they take out their loans. One point is 1 percent of the loan's value.

Thirty-year mortgage rates usually follow 30-year Treasury bond yields. Thursday, the bonds advanced 6/32, to yield 5.544 percent.

Low mortgage rates have been credited with pushing up home-buying and producing strong housing starts. The Commerce Department Wednesday reported July seasonally-adjusted housing starts rose 6 percent from June and gained 18 percent from July 1997.

"A lot of this has to do with Asia's troubles," Freddie Mac Chief Economist Robert Van Order said. "While the problems in the Asian markets will hurt some areas of our economy, it has helped to keep the housing sector active."

Written By Tiare Rath

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