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Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for the sixth straight week as markets around the globe continued the whipsaw trading that has marked this year so far

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WASHINGTON — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for the sixth straight week as markets around the globe continued the whipsaw trading that has marked this year so far.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.65 percent this week, down from 3.72 percent last week and close to its low point last year of 3.59 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 2.95 percent from 3.01 percent last week.

Mortgage rates have continued to fall despite the Federal Reserve's decision in December to raise the short-term rate it controls for the first time since 2006.

Global economic worries and the turmoil in world stock markets have pushed up prices of U.S. government bonds as investors seek safety. That has depressed the yields on the bonds, which mortgage rates track. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond has dropped to stunningly low levels below the significant 2-percent mark.

PHOTO: In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, photo, a "For Sale" sign hangs in front of an existing home in Atlanta. On Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, Freddie Mac reports on the week’s average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, photo, a "For Sale" sign hangs in front of an existing home in Atlanta. On Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, Freddie Mac reports on the week’s average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The benchmark yield stood at 1.71 percent Wednesday, down from 1.82 percent a week earlier. The yield fell further to 1.60 percent Thursday morning.

At the end of 2015, the yield was at 2.30 percent.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen told Congress this week that the economic anxiety and market turbulence could depress the U.S. economy's growth and slow the pace of Fed interest rate hikes.

But Yellen made clear that the Fed won't likely find it necessary to cut rates after having raised them from record lows in December. She did concede, though, that negative rates, which central banks in Japan and Europe have recently imposed, are a tool the Fed has at least studied.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage declined to 0.5 point from 0.6 point last week. The fee for a 15-year loan was unchanged at 0.5 point.

The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 2.83 percent from 2.85 percent last week; the fee remained at 0.4 point.

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