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US mortgage rates edge lower; 30-year rate at 4.71 percent

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WASHINGTON  — Long-term US mortgage rates edged slightly lower this week, taking a pause after five straight weeks of increases.

Costs for would-be home buyers have been climbing, and the key 30-year rate has been running at its highest levels in more than seven years. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages ticked down to 4.71 percent this week from 4.72 percent last week. The average benchmark rate has risen from 3.85 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans slipped to 4.15 percent this week from 4.16 percent last week.

The Federal Reserve signaled its confidence in the economy last week by raising a key interest rate for a third time this year, forecasting another rate hike before year’s end.

The strong economy and anticipation of more short-term rate hikes by the Fed are helping drive the increase in mortgage rates.

Against the backdrop of economic strength, interest rates on U.\S Treasury bonds have been rising as their prices have fallen. The yield on the key 10-year Treasury note climbed Thursday to 3.18 percent, its highest level in more than seven years.

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.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 0.4 point from 0.5 point last week. The fee on 15-year mortgages also declined to 0.4 point from 0.5 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.01 percent from 3.97 percent last week. The fee was unchanged at 0.3 point.

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