US long-term mortgage rates hover near low; 30-year at 3.31%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates hovered near all-time lows for the third straight week amid fresh signs of severe damage to the economy and the housing market from the shutdown spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan slipped to 3.31% this week from 3.33% last week. A year ago the rate stood at 4.17%.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.80% from 2.77% last week.

Demand from prospective homebuyers has weakened amid economic anxiety, and the housing market has been upended by the pandemic just as it was entering the busy spring season.

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Meanwhile, the government reported Thursday that U.S. home-building activity collapsed in March as the virus spread, with housing starts tumbling an alarming 22.3% from a month earlier. The data pointed up the bleak outlook for the housing market as the economic disruption brought job losses for more than 20 million Americans in the past four weeks, as another government report showed Thursday.

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