Mortgage rates remain below 5 percent - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Mortgage rates remain below 5 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates have held below the 5 percent threshold for the second straight week, only weeks before a government program that has been keeping rates low is scheduled to expire.

The mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.95 percent this week, down from 4.97 percent a week earlier.

Rates dropped to a record low of 4.71 percent in December and have hovered around 5 percent since, kept down by a Federal Reserve campaign to stabilize the housing market by lowering mortgage rates.

The central bank's $1.25 trillion mortgage security buyback program is set to expire March 31. But the Fed has held the door open to extending the program if the economy weakens.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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