Industries Banking/Finance

Mortgage rates drop following tsunami in Japan

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Fixed-rate mortgages fell this week amid investor concern over the effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.76 percent in the week ending March 17, according to Freddie Mac, compared with 4.88 percent last week. A year ago this week, the average rate was 4.96 percent.

The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged at 3.97 percent, its lowest point since December 2010. The average rate was 4.15 percent last week and 4.33 percent a year ago.

“With the crisis in Japan, investors rushed to buy the security of U.S. Treasury bonds , which lowered its yields and other interest rates as well,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement. “This allowed fixed mortgage rates to drift lower this week.”

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