WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates continued to rise this week. The rate on the benchmark 30-year loan breached 3.5%. Home loan rates have been running at levels not seen since early 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was breaking. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports that the average rate on the 30-year loan rose to 3.56% from 3.45% last week. The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 2.79% from 2.62% last week. Mortgage rates have been expected to rise this year after the Federal Reserve announced last month that it would begin dialing back its monthly bond purchases to slow accelerating inflation.