July 31, 2014 at 10:18 am

Average U.S. 30-year mortgage rate at 4.12%

Washington Average U.S. mortgage rates declined slightly this week, hovering near their lows for the year.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.13 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, declined to 3.23 percent from 3.26 percent last week.

Mortgage rates are below the levels of a year ago. They have fallen in recent weeks after climbing last summer when the Federal Reserve began talking about reducing the monthly bond purchases it was making to keep long-term rates low.

The Fed issued a statement Wednesday after a two-day policy meeting suggesting that it wants to see further improvement in the economy before it starts raising its key short-term interest rate.