It wasn't much of a lift, but fixed mortgage rates moved higher for the fourth straight week.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 4.20% with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1% of the loan amount and are in addition to the interest rate.) It was 4.17% a week ago and 4.58% a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average ticked up to 3.64% with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.62% a week ago and 4.02% a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average slid to 3.77% with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.78% a week ago and 3.74% a year ago.
"Mortgage rates were flat this week, fluctuating only slightly during a quiet week of market-moving economic releases," said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economic analyst. "Strong Chinese data drove last week's rate increases and this week's subtle rate movements were also mostly driven by international news."
Data from Europe showed waning confidence in the German and French economies, Speakman added.
Two housing-market reports released this week provided mixed messages. March's new home sales were better than expected, up 4.5% from February and above last year's pace. This came on the heels of disappointing existing home sales, which decreased almost 5% in March.
"Although weaker March existing home sales followed muted February pending-home sales, March new home sales data continues to show strength," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. "This trend supports the fact that lower mortgage rates have started to entice buyers this spring and foreshadows a potential strengthening of pending and existing home sales in the months to come."
After a month of increases, some experts are predicting the rise in mortgage rates may be slowing. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that nearly two-thirds of the experts it surveyed say rates will go down in the coming week.