Mortgage rates in the U.S. continue to hover around record lows, as lenders and federal officials attempt to stir activity in the much-ailed residential housing sector. Freddie Mac reported Thursday the average 30-year fixed loan held steady at 4.09 percent - the lowest rate in the forty-year history of the company. Meanwhile, the average 15-year rate fell from 3.30 percent to 3.29 percent last week. Also this week, the U.S. Federal Reserve reported it will replace short-term bonds in its portfolio with long-term Treasuries in an effort to reduce interest rates and prevent a double-dip recession. "Interest rates help at the margins but they're not game changers," Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight told Bloomberg. "The problem is people's access to credit is very limited. Even if the low interest rates are there, you maybe can't take advantage of it." Even so, credit card debt continues to plummet, as delinquency and default rates hit new lows. On Wednesday, Standard & Poor's and Experian reported defaults on first mortgages fell from 1.93 percent to 1.92 percent in August.