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30-Year Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Rates on 30-year mortgages were unchanged this week, remaining at the highest level since mid-March.

Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.88 percent this week, unchanged from last week.

The rate was the highest since 30-year rates stood at 6.13 percent the week of March 16. Since that time, rates have been below the 6 percent level for four straight weeks.

"Once again, mortgage rates held relatively steady this week amid release of subdued economic data," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac. He noted that the government reported last week that businesses cut 80,000 jobs last month, the third straight month of job losses.

Many analysts believe last week's unemployment report, which showed the jobless rate jumping to 5.1 percent, was the strongest signal to date that the economy has fallen into a recession.

Other mortgage rates were also basically unchanged for the week.

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, remained at 5.42 percent, the same as last week.

Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages dipped slightly to 5.56 percent, down from 5.59 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages slipped slightly to 5.18 percent, compared to 5.19 percent last week.

The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. For 30-year and 15-year mortgages, the nationwide average fee was 0.4 point. The average fee was 0.6 point for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages and 0.7 point for one-year ARMs.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages stood at 6.22 percent, 15-year mortgage rates averaged 5.90 percent, five-year adjustable-rate mortgages were 5.93 percent and one-year adjustable-rate mortgages were at 5.47 percent.

Housing has been suffering through a severe slump that has dragged down house prices in many parts of the country. The fallout is affecting both homeowners and the economy at large.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged for the first time last week the possibility that the country could fall into recession, something that hasn't happened since 2001. The economy is being hurt by a combination of a prolonged housing slump, a severe credit crisis and now rising unemployment.

Foreclosures, meanwhile, have swelled to record highs, aggravating the problems in housing by dumping more empty homes on an already depressed market.

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