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. 

Retail Sales Expected To Rise; Mortgage Rates Should Rise, Too

Retail Sales 2008-2011

The American Consumer is alive and well, it seems.

Friday morning, the Census Bureau will release its Retail Sales figures for September. The report is expected to show an increase in gross receipts for the 15th straight month with analysts predicting a 0.6 percent increase from August.

The projected increase represents the largest jump in Retail Sales in six months and would likely lead mortgage rates higher for buyers nationwide.

The connection between Retail Sales and mortgage rates is fairly straight-forward. Retail Sales are the majority component of “consumer spending” and consumer spending represents the majority of the U.S. economy — up to 70 percent, by some estimates.

And, as the economy goes, so go mortgage rates.

10 months ago, mortgage rates shot forward to start the year. This is because expectations were high for a strong economic rebound. Conforming and FHA rates crossed 5 percent at the time and were headed toward six.

By mid-April, though, it was clear that economic data was falling short of predictions. As a result, mortgage rates declined, kicking off the 2011 Refi Boom. Then, by August, on ongoing economic softness, mortgage rates in Florida fell further, making new all-time lows.

Expectations for a recovery have returned. Rates are now rising.

Last week’s strong jobs report sparked hope for the U.S. economy and investors have been voting with their dollars. Mortgage rates are now up 7 consecutive days and Friday’s Retail Sales report could cement the trend.

If you’re shopping mortgage rates today, there’s risk in “floating”. You may want to lock your rate before Friday’s Retail Sales report drives rates even higher.

The Retail Sales report will be released at 8:30 AM ET.