Average US rate on 30-year mortgage at 4.51 pct.

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Associated Press

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 29 at 12:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages declined this week but stayed close to their highest levels in two years.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.51 percent. That's down from 4.58 percent last week, the highest since July 2011.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.54 percent from 3.60 percent, also the highest since July 2011.

Rates have risen more than a full percentage point since May when Chairman Ben Bernanke first signaled that the Federal Reserve might reduce its bond purchases later this year. The purchases have helped keep long-term interest rates low.

Mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. But the sudden spike has begun to slow the housing recovery's momentum.

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