(Washington Post) Mortgage rates have settled in, undeterred by conflicting economic data, global political and economic concerns, and recent Federal Reserve signals.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average ticked up to 4.42 percent with an average 0.4 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.40 percent a week ago and 4.08 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average remained the same as it was a week ago, holding steady at 3.87 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.34 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average slipped to 3.61 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.62 percent a week ago and 3.18 percent a year ago.

After steadily rising the first part of the year, the 30-year fixed rate has been stuck in a narrow band between 4.40 percent and 4.46 percent the past two months. The 15-year fixed and five-year ARM have also barely budged. Experts have been surprised by their stubbornness.

“Mortgage rates were flat over the past seven days despite escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, a mixed March employment report, and comments from several [Federal Open Market Committee] members hinting at a slower path of interest rate hikes,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Given the scale of geopolitical risk and equity market volatility, it is surprising that mortgage rates were so steady, and suggests that long-term lending markets are — at least for the moment — writing off the headlines as transitory. Markets are keeping an eye on inflation and federal spending data this week, as well as several speeches by key FOMC officials early next week. Beyond the standard economic calendar, rates could rise if trade tensions escalate or if military action in the Middle East looks likely. Leadership changes in Congress could also point to slightly tighter fiscal policy which would ease recent upward pressure on rates.” . . . (read more)