From www.nwitimes.com

Rates on 30-year mortgages were unchanged in the first week of the new year after posting three consecutive increases to close out 2006.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.18 percent this week, the same as last week.

Analysts said the markets in recent days have gotten some confusing messages about how serious the current economic slowdown will be.

"Currently, the market is waiting for a clearer signal on the direction in which the economy is headed," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

For 2006, 30-year mortgages peaked at 6.80 percent in late July with rates trending lower for most of the rest of the year. That decline was welcomed by the embattled housing industry, which is in the grips of a severe downturn after five boom years.

The Freddie Mac survey showed that other types of mortgage rates were mixed this week.

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, edged up slightly to 5.94 percent, compared to 5.93 percent last week.

Five-year adjustable rate mortgages rose to 6.02 percent, up from 5.98 percent, but one-year adjustable rate mortgages fell to 5.42 percent, down from 5.47 percent last week.

The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year, 15-year and five-year mortgages each carried a nationwide average fee of 0.4 point. One-year ARMs carried a fee of 0.6 point.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages stood at 6.21 percent while 15-year mortgages were at 5.76 percent, five-year ARMs averaged 5.78 percent and one-year ARMs were at 5.16 percent.