Mortgage interest rates, at least as reported by Freddie Mac in its Weekly Primary Mortgage Survey, were virtually unchanged in the first week of the New Year. While three of the four loan types tracked by the survey were down from the final week of 2005, not one of the four budged more than a single basis point. Hardly worth the ink it takes to talk about them.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage was down from 6.22 to 6.21 percent with fees and points remaining at 0.5 while the 15-year fixed was unchanged at 5.76 percent. Fees and points did decline from 0.6 to 0.5.

The 5/1 hybrid mortgage decreased from 5.79 to 5.78 but fees and points increased to 0.7 from 0.6. The 1-year ARM increased one basis point to 5.16 percent with frees and points unchanged at 0.7.

All in all, a zero-sum game.

Activity was a more pronounced according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey for the week ended January 6. The survey found that the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased from 6.15 percent to 6.08 percent from the week ended December 30. Points including the origination fee also dropped from 1.32 to 1.23 for 80 percent loan to value mortgages. The contract rate for the 15-year fixed averaged 5.66 percent compared with 5.74 percent the previous week with points decreasing to 1.17 from 1.25.

Only the 1 year ARM increased and then only one basis point from 5.41 to 5.42 percent with points unchanged at 0.92.

It is surprising, given the results of the Freddie Mac annual report on ARMs released last week that showed the 1-year ARM becoming virtually an endangered species, that MBA did not add the increasing popular 5/1 ARM to its survey at the first of the year. Freddie Mac began reporting on that product at the beginning of 2005.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, rebounded from the traditionally slow holiday weeks and was up 9.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the last week of the year. On an unadjusted basis the index was up 27.2 percent from the previous week and was down 19.1 percent compared with the first week of 2005.

Refinancing as a percent of all mortgage activity decreased to 42.2 percent from 42.7 percent the previous week Adjustable rate mortgages represented 28.1 percent of all applications, down from 28.8 percent the previous week.