What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates July 15 2013The Fed’s release of the minutes for the June FOMC meeting was the most noteworthy economic event last week; the minutes repeated the Fed’s recent statement concerning the wind-down of its current monetary easing policy.

The minutes indicated that about half of meeting participants wanted to end the quantitative easing (QE) policy by year end, while “many others” preferred to end the program in 2014.

This split suggests that days are numbered for the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The minutes also revealed that the Fed would not be selling off MBS as QE is ended. This would likely prevent additional potential for mortgage rates to increase as demand for bonds would decline when the Fed stops its monthly purchases.

Mortgage Rates Typically Rise When Bond And MBS Prices Fall

U.S. financial markets showed little reaction to the Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a quick gain of about 40 points that quickly retreated. The Wall Street Journal interprets the lackluster response to the Fed minutes as investors growing accustomed to the eventual end of the QE program; it’s also possible that the markets interpreted the FOMC minutes as “old news,” as the minutes contained information included in the Fed statement given after June’s FOMC meeting.

The FOMC minutes reported that details of tapering the QE program will be given by Chairman Ben Bernanke during his customary press conference after the Fed presents the FOMC meeting statement. The minutes also asserted that the Fed will closely monitor economic and financial developments as part of their decision-making for ending QE.

The minutes stated that the current Federal Funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will remain in place for some time after QE is ended.

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved to 4.51 percent from last week’s 4.29 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent. Discount points for both types of loans rose from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that borrowers may soon return to adjustable rate mortgages or hybrids such as the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which was reported at an average rate of 3.26 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent.

What’s Coming Up

On Monday, retail sales for June will be released. This is an important indicator for the general economy. Tuesday’s news includes NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July.

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for June will be released. Thursday’s news includes weekly Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Friday.

Advertisements

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 20, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 20, 2013Last week was jam-packed with economic news; here are some highlights with emphasis on housing and mortgage related news:

Monday: Retail sales for April increased to -0.1 percent from the March reading of -0.5 percent and also surpassed Wall Street’s downward forecast of -0.6 percent. Retail sales are important to economic recovery as sales of goods and services represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Tuesday: The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April with encouraging results. April’s index rose by 2.6 points to 92.1. A reading of 90.7 indicates economic recovery. This index is based on a survey of 1873 NFIB member businesses.

Wednesday: The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May matched investor expectations with a reading of 44. At three points above the March reading of 41, this report suggests that builders are slowly gaining confidence in national housing markets.

Thursday: The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts fell by 16.5 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 853,000 from 1.02 million housing starts in March. This reading fell short of investors’ consensus of 965,000 housing starts, however, this decrease was caused by the volatile apartment construction sector.

Friday: Consumer sentiment for May surpassed investor expectations of +0.3 percent and came in at +0.6 percent. As consumer sentiment improves, it’s likely that more consumers will buy homes.

Rising Interest Rates Show Strengthening Economy

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.42 percent to 3.51 percent with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

15-year fixed rate mortgages rose from 2.61 percent last week to 2.69 percent this week with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

This news is consistent with a strengthening economy, but is narrowing opportunities for home buyers seeking both affordable home prices and low mortgage rates.

Federal Open Market Committee Minutes To Be Released This Week

Looking ahead, economic news for this week includes the Existing Home Sales report for April with an expectation of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against the March tally of 4.93 million homes sold.

Also set for release on Wednesday are the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes for the meeting held April 30 and May 1. The FOMC meetings typically include discussions of the Federal Reserve’s current policy on quantitative easing (QE) which consists of the Fed buying $85 billion per month in MBS and treasury bonds.

When the QE program ends, mortgage rates will likely increase as bond prices decline due to lesser demand.

Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims Report along with New Home Sales for April. The consensus for new homes sold is 430,000 as compared to the March reading of 417,000 new homes sold.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will release its Home Price Index for March on Thursday.

Fed Meeting Statement Points To Continuing Low Interest Rates

Fed Meeting Statement Points To Continuing Low Interest RatesWednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement indicates the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keeping long term interest rates and inflation under control.

The Fed will continue monitoring inflation, but does not expect inflation to rise more than 0.50 percent above its target rate of 2.00 percent over the next one to two years.

Ongoing monitoring of inflation and unemployment, as well as developing economic news, will guide the Fed in its future determinations concerning policy for its present iteration of quantitative easing (QE3).

Currently, the Fed purchases $85 billion of treasury securities and mortgage –backed securities each month with the goal of keeping long-term interest rates lower.

This includes mortgage rates, which can assist homebuyers with qualifying for mortgage loans in an environment of increasing home prices. Other goals include stabilizing the labor market, and limiting inflation.

Job Growth To Be Determining Factor On Fed Interest Rate Action

The statement also noted that the Fed will keep its interest rates between 0.00 and 0.25 percent, until the Fed sees the national unemployment rate fall below 6.50 percent.

While noting that the housing sector is improving, the Fed stated concerns about ongoing high unemployment rates. Jobs are a key aspect to supporting the economy, as 70 percent of the U.S. economy involves the purchase of goods and services by consumers.

The Fed also repeated its position to evaluate the efficacy of its quantitative easing program; if the agency finds that the program is not achieving their desired objectives, changes to the program can be expected.

While a clear majority of FOMC members voted to keep current policies intact, one member voted against this course of action citing the potential for continued quantitative easing at current levels to fuel inflation.

The bottom line for today’s statement is that the Fed continues its “wait and see” position concerning quantitative easing and low federal interest rates.The committee also re-asserted its intention to gradually reduce quantitative easing when it’s time for a change.

In addition, the Fed is committed to monitoring a wide range of economic data with an eye toward adjusting its policies in the best interest of economic recovery.

Japan continues to rock the markets

MARKET WRAP: The devastation in Japan continued to rock the markets today forcing investors to panic sell in the equity markets pushing the Dow Jones down nearly 300 points before paring more than half of those losses by the time the Stock markets closed at 4:00pm ET. The selling of equities lifted the Bond markets but Bonds reversed course and shed many of those gains as the day progressed, especially after the Fed was more upbeat on the economic recovery and noted commodity inflation in its FOMC statement. The benchmark 4% coupon finished at 98.88 after being as high as 99.31 up 22bp for the session. The Dow fell 137.74 to 11,855.42, the S&P 500 Index fell 14.52 to 1,281.87 while the Nasdaq dropped 33.64 to 2,667.33. Oil settled at $97.19/barrel down $4.01. Tomorrow’s data includes Housing Starts/Building Permits along with the Producer Price Index.