Mortgage rates were essentially unchanged during the week ended March 15 according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The corporation's chief economist and vice president Frank Nothaft said that the lack of movement was largely due to the lack of economic news. "The economy added 97,000 jobs in February, in line with consensus expectations, while the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent. But the promising employment situation did not materialize at the cash registers, with retail sales only growing by 0.1 percent in February, falling short of the 0.3 percent gain that had been predicted."

"Over the course of next week, (the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors' meeting) February's inflation measures at the wholesale and retail levels will be published and could serve as the driving force behind further rate movement."

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was unchanged from the previous week at 6.14 percent although fees and points declined from 0.5 to 0.4. The 15-year FRM moved up to 5.88 and 0.4 points percent from 5.86 with 0.5 points.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) were also unchanged at 5.90 percent with points increasing from 0.5 to 0.6.

The only real change was in the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM which dropped 5 basis points to 5.42 percent although fees and points were up from 0.6 to 0.7.

The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Banker's Association (MBA) for the week ended March 16 revealed rate patterns which were almost equally inert. The average contract interest rate for 30-year FRMS increased from 6.03 percent to 6.06 percent with points, including the origination fee, decreasing from 1.38 to 1.3.

Rates for the 15-year FRM were up one basis point to 5.79 percent while points decreased to 1.17 from 1.22. The one-year ARM increased from 5.86 percent to 5.88 percent with points down to 0.73 from 0.76.

Mortgage application activity decreased 2.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the pace one week earlier and 2.5 percent unadjusted. Applications were initiated at a rate that was 18 percent higher than one year earlier.

Refinancing was down from 46.2 percent a week earlier to 45.3 percent while the adjustable rate mortgage share of all loan application decreased a full point to 20.9 percent.