U.S. 30-year mortgage rates hit lowest since October 2016: Freddie Mac

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Borrowing costs on U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to their lowest level since October 2016 in step with declining bond yields due to economic and trade worries, Freddie Mac said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A home is seen in the Penn Estates development where most of the homeowners are underwater on their mortgages in East Straudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 20, 2018. Picture taken June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The interest rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 3.49% in the week ended Sept. 5, down from 3.58% a week ago and 4.54% a year earlier, the mortgage finance agency said.

Declining mortgage rates are expected to offset rising prices and tight inventories that have clamped down home sales, analysts said.

“Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement.

While the trade conflict between China and the United States has hurt business activity, a sturdy domestic job market has buoyed consumer spending that accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, analysts said.

“The unemployment rate is low, housing affordability is improving, homebuyer demand is rising, and home price growth is stable,” Khater said.

On Tuesday, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR fell to 1.429%, their lowest level since July 2016, partly in response to a report from the Institute for Supply Management that showed the U.S. manufacturing sector recorded its first monthly contraction since 2016.

Ten-year yields rose on Thursday, last at 1.567%, on news Beijing and Washington had agreed to hold trade talks in October, together with upbeat data on jobs and services activity.

Other mortgage costs Freddie Mac tracks also tracked lower from the previous week.

The average interest rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.00%, the lowest since November 2016. It was down from 3.06% the week before and 3.99% a year ago.

Borrowing costs on five-year adjustable rate loans averaged 3.30%, down from 3.31% a week ago and 3.93% a year earlier.

GRAPHIC: U.S. Treasury yields vs mortgage rates -

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Jonathan Oatis