US long-term mortgage rates edge lower; 30-year at 2.71%

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A for sale sign stands in front of a house, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Westwood, Mass. U.S. long-term mortgage rates edged lower this week, reaching record lows for the 14th time this year against the backdrop of the pandemic-ravaged economy. Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac says on Thursday, Dec. 3, the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan slipped to 2.71% from 2.72% last week. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates edged lower this week, reaching record lows for the 14th time this year against the backdrop of the pandemic-ravaged economy.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan slipped to 2.71% from 2.72% last week. By contrast, the benchmark rate stood at 3.68% a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans declined to 2.26% from 2.28%.

Home loan rates have trended downward through most of this year, bolstering demand from would-be homebuyers or people looking to refinance existing mortgages. But as Freddie Mac noted, home sales have stalled as the lack of available homes for purchase continues to stifle house hunters.

Home prices have risen significantly in the past year as supply remains near historically low levels.

In the latest sign that the economy and job market remain under stress from the resurgent viral outbreak, the government reported Thursday that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a still-high 712,000.

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