NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. 30-year mortgage rates rose to their highest since late December, in line with a spike in Treasury yields, due to growing expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week, according to Freddie Mac <FMCC.PK> on Thursday.

The borrowing cost on 30-year mortgages, the most widely held type of U.S. home loan, averaged 4.21 percent in the week ended March 9. That was the highest since 4.32 percent in the week ended Dec. 29 and above 4.10 percent the previous week, the mortgage finance agency said.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose more than 17 basis points last week as a group of Fed officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, signaled a high likelihood the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates at its policy meeting next week, on signs of an improving U.S. economy.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries reached about an 11-week high on Thursday at 2.589 percent, Reuters data showed.


The jump in mortgage rates has not stymied application activity for home purchases or to refinance a home loan.

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said its gauge on U.S. mortgage applications climbed its strongest level since mid-December.

Investors were waiting to see whether the government's jobs report for February, due for release at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) on Friday, will show more hiring and wage growth, providing the latest evidence for the Fed to lift rates since December.

"The strength of Friday's employment report and the outcome of next week's (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting are likely to set the direction of next week's survey rate," Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti said in a statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast U.S. employers likely added 190,000 workers last month, less than January's 227,000 increase. They projected average hourly earnings likely grew by 0.3 percent, rebounding from a 0.3 percent decline in January.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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