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Mortgage rates dropped sharply this week, possibly improving the purchasing power of many home buyers. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular choice among buyers, averaged 4.39 percent this week, its lowest average for 2011, Freddie Mac reported in its weekly mortgage market survey. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and the 5-year adjustable rate-mortgage also both reached new historical record lows. 

Rates mostly dropped across the board amid signs of a weakening economy, Freddie Mac says. 

"Treasury bond yields fell markedly after signs the economy was weaker than what markets had previously thought allowing fixed mortgage rates to follow this week with the 15-year fixed and 5-year ARM setting new historical lows, says Frank Nothaft,

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WASHINGTON Oct 2, 2011 Fixed mortgage rates have fallen to historic new lows for a fourth straight week and are likely to fall further.

The average on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.01 percent from 4.09 percent this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That™s the lowest rate since the mortgage buyer began keeping records in 1971. The last time long-term rates were lower was in 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.

The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, ticked down to 3.28 percent. Economists say that™s the lowest rate ever for the loan.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year yield has risen this week to around 2 percent. A week ago, it touched 1.74

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