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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Average Long-Term U.S. Mortgage Rate Breaches 7%

The average long-term US mortgage rate returned to the 20-year highs of two weeks ago when rates breached 7% for the first time since 2002, Matt Ott reported for the Associated Press (AP) late.

Photo Insert: Two weeks ago, the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate topped 7% for the first time in more than two decades.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the key 30-year rate rose to 7.08% from 6.95% last week. A year ago, the average rate was 2.98%. The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with those refinancing their homes, climbed to 6.38% from 6.29% last week. It was 2.27% one year ago.

Last week, the Federal Reserve raised its short-term lending rate by another 0.75 percentage points, three times its usual margin, for a fourth time this year as part of its inflation-fighting strategy.

Its key rate now stands in a range of 3.75% to 4%. More increases are likely coming, though there is some hope that the Fed will dial them down as more evidence comes in that prices have peaked.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that consumer inflation reached 7.7% in October from a year earlier, the smallest year-over-year rise since January. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, “core” inflation rose 6.3% in the past 12 months.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The numbers were all lower than economists had expected. Thursday’s report raised the possibility that the Fed could decide to slow its rate hike, a prospect that sent stock prices jumping as soon as the data was released.

Two weeks ago, the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate topped 7% for the first time in more than two decades, which combined with sky-high home prices, have crushed homebuyers’ purchasing power by adding hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage payments.

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