Mortgage rates tumble below 4 percent again

WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates continued to move lower this week, with the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage falling below the 4 percent mark for the first time since November.

It was the fourth consecutive week that 30-year mortgage rates have declined.

Freddie Mac reported that a 30-year fix mortgaged had an average rate of 3.97 percent in the week that ended on Thursday, down from 4.08 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year rates were averaging 3.59 percent.

A 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.23 percent this week. A 5-year, adjustable-rate mortgage — an increasingly popular mortgage product since rates began rising last fall — averaged 3.10 percent this week.

“Weak economic data and growing international tensions are driving investors out of riskier sectors and into Treasury securities,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti. “This shift in investment sentiment has propelled rates lower.”

Mortgage applications, particularly among homeowners looking to refinance an existing mortgage, have stalled on rising rates. But a monthlong drop in rates could begin to change that sentiment.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that refinancing activity is down more than 40 percent from a year ago.

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