Average US rate on 30-year loan at 4.32 percent; rates up a point since record low a year ago

WASHINGTON - Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages slipped this week as new data showed a decline in home prices in November and a drop in new homes sales last month.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average for the 30-year loan fell to 4.32 percent from 4.39 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan eased to 3.40 percent from 3.44 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago. The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. Deeming the economy to be gaining in strength, the Fed pushed ahead Wednesday with a plan to reduce the bond purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low.

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