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Interest Rate Roundup: Mortgages, Auto Loans & More

Here's a look at the state of interest rates on five common consumer banking products and the latest rates from Bankrate.com's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted March 18, 2009.

Mortgages

Rate: 5.29 percent (30-year fixed) Average Points: 0.33

Mortgage rates fell to near record lows in this week's Bankrate survey. However, an announcement by the Federal Reserve sent rates down even further after the survey was completed.

Home Sales Classified
Home Sales Classified

The average 30-year, fixed-rate fell 8 basis points, to 5.29 percent. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. The rate is 1 basis point above the all-time Bankrate low of 5.28 percent on both June 11, 2003, and Jan. 14 of this year.

It's important to note that Bankrate's survey occurred before the Federal Reserve's March 18 announcement that it plans to buy $300 billion of long-term Treasury bonds and $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities. The announcement immediately sent mortgage rates plummeting.

This week's average 15-year fixed—a popular option for refinancing—fell 2 basis points, to 4.86 percent.

The average jumbo 30-year fixed dropped 11 basis points, to 6.88 percent.

Adjustable-rate mortgages also fell this week. The one-year, adjustable-rate mortgage slid 10 basis points, to 5.48 percent. The popular 5/1 ARM also dipped 10 basis points, to 5.24 percent.

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Mortgage loan application activity increased sharply for the second straight week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. For the week ending March 13, applications climbed a seasonally adjusted 21 percent compared to a week earlier.

Refinancing activity grew by 30 percent, while applications for new purchases were up 1.5 percent.

Construction of new homes jumped unexpectedly in February, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted 583,000, up 22 percent from January. Construction had fallen for eight straight months before February.

Meanwhile, homebuilder sentiment remained glum for March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Market Index.

The index reading for March remained unchanged at 9. An index reading below 50 indicates the number of builders who view sales conditions as poor exceeds the number of builders who believe sales conditions are positive.

March was the fifth straight month of single-digit index readings.

Interest Rate Roundup: CDs

CDs

Yields: 1.37 percent (1-year CD yield); 2.27 percent (5-year CD yield)

As expected, the Federal Reserve left the federal funds rate unchanged at the close of its meeting Wednesday—and that will not bode well for CD rates. The added statement that "economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period" is a bit disheartening for CD buyers, but it's not likely that anyone expected otherwise.

The average yield for one-year CDs, as surveyed by Bankrate.com, held its ground this week, coming in at 1.37 percent. The average yield for five-year CDs fell 2 basis points to 2.27 percent.

On the jumbo side, both the one-year and the five-year shed 1 basis point, coming in at 1.48 percent and 2.31 percent, respectively.

Check out Bankrate's high-yield CDs for some of the best returns available nationwide.

The average yield for money market accounts is unchanged at 0.49 percent. Our high-yield money market account tables list several banks paying better than 2 percent.

All deposit products listed with Bankrate are FDIC-insured.

Interest Rate Roundup: Auto Loans

Auto Loans

Rates: 6.87 percent (60-month, new car); 7.67 percent (36-month, used car)

It was another week of gently falling auto loan interest rates, according to the weekly Bankrate.com survey of rates. The 60-month, new-car loan rate dropped 3 basis points to 6.87 percent. The 48-month and 36-month, new-car loan rates also dropped 3 basis points each. The 48-month, new-car loan rate now stands at 6.86 percent and the 36-month, new-car loan rate is 6.79 percent.

The 36-month, used-car loan rate dropped 1 basis point to come in at 7.67 percent. Standing unchanged for the week, the 48-month, used-car loan rate is 7.74 percent.

The national 60-day delinquency rate for auto loans rose 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to TransUnion's analysis of trends in the auto lending industry. The delinquency rate, or the ratio of borrowers more than 60 days late on their auto loan, increased from .8 percent to .86 percent at the end of last year.

To find updated auto rates in your area, visit Bankrate's auto rate table.

Interest Rate RoundupL Home Equity Products

Home Equity Products

Rate: 5.62 percent (line of credit); 8.6 percent (loan)

Rates on home equity products were split this week.

The average home equity line of credit, or HELOC, rose 5 basis points to 5.62 percent. Home equity loan rates remained unchanged at 8.6 percent. They remain at their highest levels since October 2001.

Interest Rate Roundup: Credit Cards

Credit Cards

Rates: 13.56 percent (standard fixed); 10.75 percent (standard variable)

Variable interest rates for credit cards sank this week but fixed rates stayed put. For all cards, the average fixed rate remained at 12.33 percent. The variable rate dropped to 10.68 percent, down 7 basis points. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Standard-fixed rates also stagnated, at 13.56 percent. Variable rates fell 5 basis points to 10.75 percent.

The average charge-off rate, or debts that banks don't expect to collect, climbed to 7.1 percent in January, up from 4.6 percent a year ago, according to Bloomberg. Analysts predict the average will rise to somewhere between 9 percent and 10 percent this year, for a grand total of $70 to $75 billion in losses for 2009.

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