US rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.54 percent

WASHINGTON - Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages crept closer to their historic lows this week, a trend that could help the housing recovery strengthen.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan edged down to 3.54 percent from 3.57 percent last week. That's near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage declined to 2.74 percent from 2.76 percent last week. The record low of 2.63 percent also was reached in November.

Low mortgage rates have contributed to a housing rebound more than six years after the bubble burst. Home sales and construction are up, prices are rising and more Americans are refinancing. That's helped the broader economy.

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