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Mortgages get more expensive as rates hit near 4-year peak

The cost of borrowing for a home keeps going up, a potential obstacle to would-be buyers at a time when home prices are at all-time highs in more than half of major U.S. markets.

Average long-term mortgage rates have been rising steadily this year and are now at the highest level in almost four years. That translates into higher mortgage payments and more money paid out over the life of the typical 30-year home loan.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.38 percent this week, up from 4.32 percent last week. That's the highest rate since April 2014. At the start of the year, the average rate was just under 4 percent. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 3.84 percent from 3.77 percent last week.

The pickup in mortgage rates dims prospects for would-be homebuyers struggling to compete in a housing market where a thin inventory of homes for sale continues to drive up prices.

UK taxpayer-owned RBS reports first profit in a decade

Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland reported Friday its first profit in a decade but warned that its 2018 results may be hit by a pending settlement with U.S. officials.

RBS, which was bailed out by the British government during the 2008 financial crisis, posted a 752 million pound ($1.1 billion) profit for 2017, a major turnaround from the nearly 7 billion pound loss reported the year before.

The bank is still 72 percent owned by British taxpayers after the government intervention to keep it afloat.

Despite the improvement, hopes that the bank has put its problems behind it are tainted by the expectation that its results this year will be substantially affected by a multibillion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over mortgage-backed securities that were mis-sold before the financial crisis.

"Our results in 2018 are somewhat dependent upon the settlement with the DOJ, which we hope will happen," RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan said.