By MATT OTT
AP Business Writer
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The average interest rate for long-term mortgages in the U.S. remained flat this week, following the Federal Reserve suggesting that it would start tightening credit by raising its benchmark rate. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed rate home loan ticked up slightly to 3.11% from last week’s 3.10%. Earlier this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled a sharp turn toward tightening credit more quickly than the Fed has previously indicated, which would pave the way to the Fed hiking its benchmark interest rate as early as spring.