Average 30-year mortgage rate rises

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week for the first time in five weeks. The benchmark 30-year rate pushed back above the key threshold of 4 percent.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans increased to 4.03 percent from 3.97 percent last week.

The rate stood at 3.66 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages rose to 3.27 percent from 3.23 percent last week.

A separate report Thursday showed that fewer consumers signed contracts to buy U.S. homes last month as the spring buying season began amid stiff competition for affordable homes and tight supply. The National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index slipped 0.8 percent to 111.4 in March, from 112.3 in February.

The Realtors reported last week that Americans purchased homes in March at the fastest pace in over a decade, as more people looked to close deals with home prices on the rise.

While mortgage rates have declined in recent weeks, they are widely expected to continue to rise from last year’s record lows, making people eager to buy.

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