US long-term mortgage rates rise; 30-year at 2.96%

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Photo credit FILE - This April 16, 2020 file photo shows a real estate company sign that marks a home for sale in Harmony, Pa. U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages rose this week but remained at historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports, Thursday, Aug. 13, that the average rate on the 30-year home loan increased to 2.96% from 2.88% last week. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages rose this week but remained at historically low levels. The key 30-year loan stayed below 3%.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan increased to 2.96% from 2.88% last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.60% a year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.46% from 2.44% from last week.

Homebuying demand continues as one of few bright spots in the pandemic-struck economy, especially for prospective buyers considering a first-time purchase, Freddie Mac noted. Still the lack of available homes remains an obstacle.

The government's latest weekly report on unemployment claims showed Thursday that the number of laid-off workers applying for aid fell below 1 million last week for the first time since the viral pandemic intensified five months ago — yet it still remains at a high level. The pandemic continues to force layoffs just as the expiration of a $600-a-week federal jobless benefit has deepened hardships for many.