STILL LOW: The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week but remained near historic lows. Low mortgage rates have helped support the slowly recovering housing market.
30-YEAR ON THE CHEAP: Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.56 percent from 3.53 percent last week. That's still near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest in records dating to 1971.
ECONOMY BOOST: The cheap mortgages that are encouraging more people to buy or refinance also could help sustain the economy's recovery this year.