What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 16, 2011

Mortgage bonds suffered through another tough week last week as rising optimism that Eurozone leaders will “rescue” Greece plus stronger-than-expected economic data in the U.S. led bonds lower for the second straight week.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates in Florida moved sharply higher. After reaching an all-time low just two weeks ago, 30-year fixed mortgage rates are now at a 2-month high.

There were several big stories in the mortgage bond market last week. Each was bad for consumer mortgage rates.

The first big story was tied to Greece. As meetings continue between Eurozone leader and rhetoric heats up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Greece will receive its next wave of debtor aid. The planned rescue of Greece is undoing the safe haven buying that characterized the mid-summer financial markets. 

With investors more willing to take risks, mortgage bonds are selling off, and rates are rising.

The next big story was the release of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting minutes. The central bank’s meeting recap showed that the Fed considered additional stimulus beyond its Operation Twist, even as inflationary pressures are increasing. Because inflation lowers the value of outstanding mortgage bonds, rates climbed post-release.

Lastly, last week we learned that the U.S. consumer will not be deterred. Retail Sales grew 1.1 percent in September — much more than Wall Street’s expectation. This, too, caused a mortgage bond sell-off and led to a late-Friday surge in rates.

Markets should open worse this morning, pressuring rates higher yet again. However, there’s plenty of data this week for which rate shoppers should be watching :

  • Tuesday : Producer Price Index; Housing Market Index
  • Wednesday : Consumer Price Index; Housing Starts
  • Thursday : Existing Home Sales

In addition, there are 8 Fed speakers this week. Each can move markets.

Despite rising rates, mortgage rates remain low nationwide. If you’ve been shopping for a rate, it’s not too late to lock in. Talk to your loan officer and make a plan to get locked, and get closed. 

Fed Minutes : Fed Considered Additional Stimulus In August

FOMC Minutes August 2011

The Fed publishes meeting minutes 8 times annually — three weeks after each scheduled Federal Open Market Committee get-together. The Fed Minutes summarizes the FOMC meeting.

The Federal Reserve released the minutes from its August 9, 2011 Federal Open Market Committee meeting Tuesday.

The Fed Minutes contained no surprises and, as a result, mortgage rates across Ohio and nationwide have idled.

Although it gets less press attention, the Fed Minutes is every bit as important as the more highly-publicized, post-meeting statement from the FOMC. With its detailed record of conversation, the Fed Minutes highlights the discussions and debates that shape our nation’s monetary policy.

For example, here is some of what was said at the Fed’s August 2011 meeting :

  • On growth : Economic growth had been slower than the committee expected
  • On housing : The market “remains depressed”. Underwriting standards are “tight”.
  • On rates : The Fed Funds Rate will remain low until mid-2013

In addition, the Fed talked about whether a third round of asset purchases should be announced. Ultimately, that plan was rejected by consensus.

The FOMC’s next meeting is a 2-day meeting, scheduled for September 20-21. The meeting was originally scheduled for just one day, but Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke chose to extend it to two. Wall Street believes that the extension was made so Fed members could discuss new forms of economic stimulus.

Depending on the form of said stimulus — if it should even occur — mortgage rates may rise or fall. We can’t know for certain unti the size and scope of the Fed’s plan is known.

For now, mortgage rates remain rock-bottom. There’s more room for rates to rise than to fall. If you’re shopping for a loan and the rate looks right, therefore, consider locking on it.