WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week to their lowest point in two months. The decline follows the Federal Reserve's decision last week to hold off slowing its monthly bond purchases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 4.32 percent from 4.50 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan declined to 3.37 percent from 3.54 percent.

Both are the lowest averages since July 25.

Mortgage rates are nearly a full percentage point higher than in May, when the Fed first signaled it might slow its $85-billion-a-month in bond buys. But last week the Fed kept the pace steady after lowering its outlook for economic growth.

The bond purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday 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 was steady at 0.7 point. The fee for a 15-year loan also was unchanged at 0.7 point.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage slipped to 2.63 percent from 2.65 percent. The fee was unchanged at 0.4 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage dipped to 3.07 percent from 3.11 percent. The fee held at 0.5 point.



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