February 15, 2018 / 4:50 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. 30-year mortgage rates rise near four-year high -Freddie Mac

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NEW YORK, Feb 15 (Reuters) - U.S. 30-year mortgage rates climbed to their highest in almost four years in line with U.S. bond yields on worries about rising inflation amid an improving global economy, Freddie Mac said on Thursday.

The housing market seems resilient in the face of rising home borrowing costs. Housing demand remains sturdy with rising income, while home supply has been tight due to limited labor and lots to build on, analysts said.

The borrowing cost on 30-year mortgages, the most widely held type of U.S. home loan, averaged 4.38 percent in the week ended on Feb. 15, the highest since April 2014. Last week, 30-year home loan rates had averaged 4.32 percent, the mortgage finance agency said.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield has posted a series of four-year peaks this week on concerns about rising inflation and a surge in federal borrowing to fund major tax cuts passed in December and the budget debt decided on last week. It was 2.886 percent on Thursday after hitting 2.944 percent, Reuters data showed.

Earlier Thursday, the government said producer prices rose 2.7 percent on a year-over-year basis in January. The core measure of producer prices which excludes food, energy and trade services prices increased 2.5 percent in the 12 months through January, its biggest increase since August 2014.

The January PPI report followed stronger-than-expected readings on the Consumer Price Index in January.

“Inflation measures were broad-based, cementing expectations that the Federal Reserve will go forward with monetary tightening later this year,” Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist Len Kiefer said in a statement.

Traders raised bets the U.S. central bank may increase key overnight borrowing costs four times in 2018.

In another report on Thursday, the National Association of Home Builders said its index of housing market activity was unchanged at 72 points in February in line with expectations.

The index, which is seen as a proxy for future home construction, was 2 points below the level set in December which was the highest since July 1999.

“With ongoing job creation, increasing owner-occupied household formation, and a tight supply of existing home inventory, the single-family housing sector should continue to strengthen at a gradual but consistent pace,” the industry group’s chief economist Robert Dietz said in a statement.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish

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