BUTLER, N.J. -- The Federal Reserve Board's recent half-point increase in short-term interest rates has so far had only a small impact on mortgage rates, according to a weekly survey by HSH Associates, a publisher of information on the home loan market.

"The hike itself had been anticipated by most credit market observers," HSH said. It added that the only question had been whether the increase imposed Aug. 16 would be just a quarter of a point or half a point.

The survey, which covers more than 2,000 lenders nationwide, showed that the national average for 30-year, fixed-rate home loans actually dropped slightly, to 8.69%, from 8.75% the week before.

HSH also found that the rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans had eased to 8.22%, from 8.27%.

If anything, lenders appeared to be even more aggressive in offering bargain-rate loans, HSH found. Its tally of lenders offering 30-year fixed loans at 8.25% or less ballooned to 225, from 125 the week before. The survey also found that 8.125% was the predominant bargain rate.

Adjustable-rate mortgages, often keyed to short-term rate indexes, edged up in cost, with the national average reaching 5.66%, from 5.57%.

"ARM rates will be under pressure to increase," said Keith Gumbinger, an analyst at HSH, "but lenders will resist doing so just as long as they can."

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