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The Incredible Shrinking Interest Rate

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The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell again this week to the lowest level in at least 38 years, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey.

Mortgage rates have been pushed lower by weak housing demand and rising foreclosures. In addition, Treasury prices have risen, indicating that investors and financial institutions are retreating from riskier bets, and sending yields lower. Mortgage rates tend to follow the yields.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Realtors said its forecasting gauge of housing-market activity climbed to its highest level in more than three years in October. Last week, the association said October sales of existing homes jumped 10% as buyers continued to take advantage of a first-time-home-buyer tax credit, low prices and low mortgage rates.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.71% for the week ended Thursday, down from last week's 4.78% average and 5.53% a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were 4.27%, down from last week's prior low of 4.29% and 5.77% a year earlier. Freddie has tracked 15-year rates since 1991.

Excerpted from The Wall St. Journal

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