US average mortgage rates rise; 30-year loan at 3%

WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates rose this week, pushing the benchmark 30-year home loan to the 3% mark for the first time since mid-April. Signs continued of the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession and a burst of inflation rattled stock markets.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported today that the average for the benchmark 30-year home-loan rate increased to 3% from 2.94% last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.24%.

The rate for a 15-year loan, popular among those seeking to refinance, rose to 2.29% from 2.26% from last week.

The government reported last week that a worrisome bout of inflation struck in April, with consumer prices for goods and services surging 0.8% — the largest monthly jump in more than a decade — and the year-over-year increase reaching its fastest rate since 2008. The report showed sharply higher prices for everything from food and clothes to housing.

The acceleration in prices, which has been building for months, has unsettled financial markets and raised concerns that it could weaken the economic recovery.

The spike in inflation caused stock markets to tumble this week because investors worry that higher prices will force the Federal Reserve to prematurely cut back on its efforts to stimulate growth. The Fed has set as its goal keeping its key interest rate near zero until the economy recovers from the pandemic.

The latest positive news came in a government report Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease. The decline in filings for jobless aid was the fifth in the past six weeks.