What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 16, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 16 2013Mortgage Debt Rises For First Time Since Recession

Last week was relatively quiet concerning scheduled housing-related news, but the Federal Reserve’s financial accounts report, released on Monday, indicated that mortgage debt in the U.S. had increased for the first time since the first quarter (Q1) of 2008.

Mortgage debt increased by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $87.4 billion, or 0.90 percent. Mortgage debt remains approximately 12.00 percent below pre-recession levels.

Increasing debt is not often considered good news, but in the case of mortgage debt in today’s economy, it suggests economic recovery in the form of higher home prices and fewer foreclosures.

Another instance of counter-intuitive economic results was released Tuesday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for October.

JOLTS indicated that 2.39 million workers quit their jobs in October. This was the highest number of jobs quit since 2008. While this may appear counter-productive to a growing economy, it indicates that workers are leaving their jobs for better positions.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Federal Budget Deficit Shrinks

On Wednesday the U.S. Treasury announced that November’s federal budget deficit had shrunk to -$135 billion from November 2012′s deficit reading of -$172 billion. This represents a year-over-year deficit decrease of 21 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) report provided good news as average mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.42 percent. Discount points rose from the previous week’s reading of 0.50 percent to 0.70 percent.

15-year fixed rate mortgage rates fell from 3.47 percent to an average reading of 3.43 percent, with discount points rising from the prior week’s reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 2.99 percent to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

Lower mortgage rates are good news for home buyers facing higher home prices.

Weekly jobless claims rose last week. The previous week’s reading of 300,000 new jobless claims was short-lived as the reading for new jobless claims rose to 368,000 last week and surpassed a consensus of 335,000 new jobless claims.

Financial analysts cautioned that employment data can be volatile during the holidays, and noted that the four-week average of new unemployment claims rose by 6000 to 328,750.

Whats Coming Up

There are several significant releases set for housing-related news. The NAHB housing market index, Housing Starts, and Building permits indicate how current builder confidence and new construction may impact the supply of available homes.

On Wednesday, the FOMC will issue its usual statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. Some analysts expect an announcement concerning the Fed’s quantitative easing policy; Outgoing Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is set to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

In addition to the weekly jobless claims report and Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Reports on Existing Home Sales and Leading Economic Indicators will also be released. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013Last week brought several indicators of a strengthening economy. New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates rose.

The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent.

Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a “blip.” October’s reading for construction spending was the highest since 2004.

CoreLogic released data that home prices rose by 0.20 percent, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.50 percent for home prices. Pending home sales were suggested that November sales are expected to hold steady as compared to October, and projected year-over-year sales for November at 12.20 percent.

Slower growth in home prices was attributed to higher mortgage rates and a fear of a housing bubble in the West, where demand for homes far exceeds the number of available homes.

Not wanting to buy at the top of the current housing market, some potential buyers may be waiting for the talk of another housing bubble to subside before buying. Robert Shiller, co-author of the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, noted that home buyers may not be “psychologically ready” for another housing bubble.

New home sales for October were higher than expectations of 419,000 homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October’s reading of 444,000 new home sales was 21.60 percent higher than September’s reading of 354,000 new homes sold. The national median home price fell by 4.50 percent to $245,800 in October; this was the lowest month-to-month reading since November 2012.

The number of available homes fell to a 4.90 month supply in October. This may cause buyers to put their home searches on hold as they wait out the winter months and hope for supplies of available homes to increase.

U.S. Employment Improving, Mortgage Rates Rise

ADP a private-sector provider of payroll services reported 215,000 new jobs added in November as compared to October’s reading of 184,000 jobs added. Weekly jobless claims supported the ADP reading as new jobless claims fell to 298,000 against expectations of 325,000 new claims and a prior reading of 321,000 new claims. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics brought more good news with its Non-Farm Payrolls report and Unemployment Rate for November. Non-Farm payrolls added 203,000 jobs in November against expectations of 180,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 200,000 jobs added.

The National Unemployment rate dipped to 7.00 percent in November against expectations of a 7.20 percent reading and October’s reading of 7.30 percent. The Federal Reserve has set a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as an indicator of economic recovery.

Last week’s strong economic news boosted mortgage rates; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 17 basis points to 4.46 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also gained 17 basis points at 3.47 percent with discount points at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 5 basis points to 2.99 percent with discount points at 0.4 percent.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s report of average mortgage rates.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 2, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -December 2, 2013The short holiday week brought a flurry of economic reports last week. Highlights included pending home sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and the FHFA home price index. No reports were released on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The NAR released its Pending Home Sales report for October. Although pending home sales dropped by -0.60 percent, the decline was less than September’s reading of -4.60 percent.

NAR cited higher home prices and mortgage rates along with concerns over the then-pending government shutdown as factors that contributed to fewer pending sales. Pending sales are determined by signed purchase contracts and are considered an indication of future completed home sales and mortgage loan closings.

Department of Commerce reported that building permits issued increased from 974,000 in September to 1.03 million for October. Permits for multi-family dwellings rose by 17 percent from September, but permits for single-family homes rose by 1.00 percent.

A lagging supply of available single-family homes has been driving home prices up as demand also increases. The multi-family reading reflected the sector’s volatile nature and was largely concentrated in the West.

Case-Shiller And FHFA Report Higher Year-Over-Year Average Home Prices

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Housing Market Index for September reported its highest year-over-year gain in seven years, but the month-to-month reading was lower. The year-over-year reading was 13.30 percent in September and the month-to-month reading showed lackluster growth at 0.70 percent.

When seasonally adjusted, September’s reading was 1.00 percent against the seasonally-adjusted August reading of 1.90 percent.

In addition to the then-looming government shutdown, concerns over rapidly rising home prices in the West may have caused would-be buyers to sit on the sidelines as fears of another “housing bubble” gained traction.

Rising home prices also impact affordability and impact the ability of buyers depending on mortgage loans to compete with cash buyers.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued its housing market index report for September. Based on sales of homes financed with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-owned mortgages, FHFA’s report indicated that year-over-year home prices at an annual rate of 8.50 percent in September as compared to August’s year-over-year reading of 8.40 percent.

Economists noted that the increase of home prices is slowing due to a number of factors including higher mortgage rates and restrictive lending policies that are making it more difficult for buyers to purchase homes.

Analysts said that next year could bring a more sustainable rate of home appreciation with year-over-year readings averaging between five and eight percent.

Freddie Mac issued its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Wednesday; average mortgage rates for 30 and 15 year mortgages rose to 4.29 percent and 3.30 percent respectively.

Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Construction Spending, ADP Employment, New Home Sales and the Fed’s Beige Book. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-farm Payrolls report and the national unemployment rate.

Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will be released as usual on Thursday.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 25, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 25, 2013Last week’s scheduled economic news was varied, but mortgage rates fell and jobless claims were significantly lower than expected. The minutes for last month’s FOMC meeting were released, and confirmed the Federal Reserve’s intention to leave its quantitative easing program unchanged at least for the near term.

The National Association of Homebuilders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for November indicated that builder confidence, while still positive, dipped by one point to a reading of 54 as compared to an anticipated reading of 55, and October’s revised reading of 54.

Retail Sales for October Rose By 0.4 Percent

NAHB noted that uncertainty over the federal budget and political gridlock may have kept builder and consumer confidence levels from achieving further gains in November.

The Consumer Price Index for October contracted by -0.10 percent against expectations of 0.00 percent growth and September’s reading of 0.20 percent growth. The Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.10 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent and was unchanged from September’s reading.

The National Association of REALTORS reported that Existing Home Sales for October were lower than for September’s reading of 5.29 million, but slightly exceeded the expected reading of 5.10 million. October’s reading came in at 5.12 million sales of existing homes.

Analysts attributed the lower reading to tight supplies of available homes in many areas and higher home prices and mortgage rates that impacted affordability.

The FOMC minutes indicated that the committee has ongoing concerns over national unemployment rate of 7.20 percent against the committee’s target unemployment rate of 6.50 percent.

Weekly Jobless Claims were notably lower at 323,000 new jobless claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 344,000 new jobless claims. Analysts and investors had expected a reading of 334,000 new jobs. Analysts noted the Veterans Day holiday as a likely contributor to the lower reading for new jobless claims.

Freddie Mac provided good news in its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.35 percent to 4.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage fell from 3.35 percent to 3.27 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. 

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage remained unchanged at 2.61 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent. This was encouraging news for home buyers and homeowners who have recently faced rising mortgage rates and home prices.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s schedule for economic reports includes several of interest to mortgage and housing professionals. Pending Home Sales will be out on Monday; Tuesday’s calendar is full with Housing Starts and Building Permits, the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, the FHFA Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index.

Wednesday’s news includes Weekly Jobless Claims, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Thursday or Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 13, 2013

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 13 2013Mortgage rates rose last week with average rates a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising from last week’s 3.35 percent to 3.42 percent with buyers paying all closing costs and 0.7 percent in discount points.

Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 2.56 percent to 2.61 percent with buyers paying their closing costs and 0.7 percent in discount points.

Freddie Mac also reports that average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.56 percent last week to 2.58 percent with buyers paying their closing costs and 0.5 percent in discount points. 

Here are noteworthy points from last week’s economic news:

Monday:  In spite of improving economic conditions, a majority of participants in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices indicated that their lending institutions would not be relaxing residential mortgage lending standards. Lenders perceive a significant risk in terms of being required to absorb losses incurred on defaulted mortgage loans. 

Mortgage owners including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with mortgage insurance companies can require mortgage lenders to buy back defaulted loans or make them whole for losses related to foreclosed and otherwise defaulted mortgage loans.

Tuesday: CoreLogic reported an increase of 1.9 percent in national home prices for March. This news represents the 13th consecutive increase and a year-over-year increase of 10.5 percent.

Home prices were boosted by strong increases in the West; Nevada posted a 22.2 percent gain from last March and California posted a 17.2 percent year-over-year gain. 

CoreLogic predicted a year-over-year increase of 9.6 percent for home prices for April, with a monthly increase of 1.3 percent increase expected between March and April.

Thursday: Weekly jobless claims brought good news as they came in at 323,000; this was lower than expectations of 335,000 new jobless claims and the 327,000 new jobless claims reported in the prior week.

Friday: The Treasury Department reported that the federal budget has a surplus of + $113 billion for April. This was $54 billion higher than for April 2012 and the highest monthly surplus since April, 2008.

Increasing home values and federal budget surpluses, along with falling consumer debt pointed the way toward overall as well as personal economic recovery last week.

Whats Coming Up 

This week brings a couple important economic reports affecting the real estate industry including the Home Builders Index on Wednesday and the Weekly Jobless Claims and Housing Starts numbers released on Thursday.

The Consumer Sentiment and Leading Indicators reports will round out the week on Friday. Consumer Sentiment is important in terms of housing markets and mortgage lending; consumers typically don’t buy homes or move up to a larger home if they aren’t feeling secure about economic conditions. 

This week’s economic data may provide further evidence of a stronger U.S. economy as well as a snapshot of retail spending and consumer costs.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 6, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 6 2013Mortgage rates fell last week and approached or reached record low levels.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) fell from 3.40 percent to 3.35 percent. Average rates for a 15-year FRM moved from 2.61percent to 2.56 percent.

Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) fell to 2.56 from last week’s average of 2.58 percent Discount points for last week’s mortgage rates ranged from 0.7percent for 30 and 15 year FRM loans to 0.5 percent for a 5/1 ARM.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates can offset the impact of rising home prices.

Last Week Was A Strong Showing For The US Economy

Last week’s economic news provided further indications of economic recovery, with housing related reports contributing to overall confidence in a stronger economy.

Highlights of last week’s news include:

Monday: Pending home sales moved up to 1.50 percent in March from February’s -1.07 percent. This reading also surpassed Wall Street’s forecast of 0.90 percent for March.

Tuesday: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February reported that the national average home price had increased by 9.3 percent year-over-year between February 2012 and February 2013. By comparison, the average national home price between January 2012 and January 2013 increased by 8.1 percent year-over-year. Rising home prices are contributing to the economic recovery, but in some areas demand for homes exceeds supply, which also contributes to rising home prices.

Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) issued its scheduled statement after its meeting concluded. Committee members noted signs of an improving economy, and cited housing markets as a leading contributor to the recovery. The FOMC statement also indicated that economic conditions were not sufficiently improved for the FOMC to change or cease the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. The Fed’s goal for its current quantitative easing program is keeping long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.

Thursday: The weekly Jobless Claims Report brought better-than-expected news with new jobless claims coming in at 324,000, less than the expected reading of 345,000 new jobless claims and also higher than the previous report’s reading of 342,000 new jobless claims.

Friday: The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly “Jobs Report,” which consists of the Non-farm Payrolls Report and the national Unemployment Rate. Again new jobs added exceeded expectations for April with 165,000 jobs added against expectations of 135,000 new jobs added. April’s reading also surpassed the March reading of 138,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent as compared to a consensus of 7.6 percent and last month’s reading of 7.6 percent. To put this reading in perspective, the FOMC has targeted an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent as a benchmark for adjusting its current policies including quantitative easing.

What To Look For This Week

This week’s economic events include latest Jobless Claims report on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if this week’s reading will be lower than last week’s reading of 324,000 new jobless claims.

On Friday, the Federal Budget will be released; this could influence financial markets depending on what programs and services are cut or reduced.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 29, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 29 2013Mortgage rates fell again last week and are again near record lows.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage did achieve a record low of 2.61 percent as compared to 3.1 percent one year ago.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.40 percent and near the record low of 3.31 percent.

Low mortgage rates are helping homeowners with refinancing and are boosting housing markets as more buyers can qualify for mortgage loans.

Home Values Continue To Rise

Last week’s economic news was mixed; The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, released its Home Price Index for February.

According to this index, home prices increased by 0.7 percent between January and February, and increased by 7.1 percent year-over-year on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing home sales for March fell short of the expected 5.03 million and came in at 4.92 million existing homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

This reading was also 0.7 percent shy of February’s reading of 4.95 million existing homes sold.

Some homeowners may be taking a wait-and-see stance as they wait for home values to continue rising.

Employment Numbers Gaining Steam

Weekly jobless claims fell to 339,000 and were short of the consensus of 351,000 and the prior week’s 355,000 jobless claims filed.

As more workers gain employment, those able to buy homes increases.

The economy in general also benefits as households gain income they can use for purchasing goods and services.

Consumer Sentiment rose by 2.1 points to 76.4 over the March reading of 72.3 percent.

April’s reading also surpassed expectations of 74.0 percent.

As consumers gain confidence in the economy, they are generally more likely to buy homes and make other major purchases that contribute to the U.S. economy.

Coming Up this Week

This week’s economic news calendar includes several reports that impact the housing sector as well as the general economy:

  • Monday: Personal Income, Consumer Spending and Pending Home Sales reports are due for release.
  • Tuesday: The Case Shiller/Wells Fargo Home Price Index for February and Consumer Confidence for April will provide data concerning national and regional home prices and indicate how consumers view the economy.
  • Wednesday: The customary statement by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is set for release at the conclusion of its meeting. The ADP Employment Index for April and Construction Spending for March provide data on jobs and trends in construction spending.
  • Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims report
  • Friday: The Non-farm Payrolls Report and Unemployment Rate for April, collectively known as the Jobs Report, will be released.

While we can’t predict what will happen with mortgage rates, some industry analysts indicated that they expect rates to remain low in the near-term.

These lower rates should continue to support growth in the real estate market for home buyers and sellers as well as those looking to refinance their home.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 21 2013Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.41 percent as compared to last week’s 3.43 percent and 3.90 percent year-over-year.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.64 percent as compared to last week’s 2.65 percent and 3.13 percent year-over-year.

Falling mortgage rates were attributed to reduced consumer spending.

Last week’s economic news includes the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), with a reading of 42 for March.

This is four points below investor expectations and two points below February’s results.

A reading of 50 or above indicates that more of the builders surveyed have a positive outlook.

March results were impacted by builder concerns over tight builder credit, a lack of available lots and increasing construction costs.

Housing Starts Increased In March

More good news for housing arrived Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Commerce issued its monthly Housing Starts report.

Housing starts for March came in higher than anticipated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, against a consensus of 933,000 and also beat February’s reported 968,000 housing starts.

Housing starts rose by 7 percent over February, and rose 47 percent over March 2012, the highest year-to-year increase since 1992.

The Federal Reserve issued its Beige Book Report which is compiled from reports by the 12 districts of the Federal Reserve.

5 districts reported moderate economic growth, 5 districts reported modest growth, and 2 reported slight economic growth.

Based on the data contained in the Beige Book Report, economists are not expecting the Fed to make changes to its current quantitative easing (QE) program of purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and MBS; this may help mortgage rates remain steady; when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise.

Whats Coming Up Next

The National Association of REALTORS® releases its Existing Home Sales report for March today.

The consensus is for 5.03 million homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, and against February’s 4.98 million existing homes sold. 

Tuesday brings more housing news with the FHFA Home Price Index for February; FHFA is the federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Department of Commerce releases its New Home Sales for March on Tuesday.

The consensus is 421,000 new homes sold against February’s reading of 411,000 new homes sold.

Thursday’s Weekly Jobless claims are expected to come in at 351,000 as compared to last week’s 352,000.

Employment is a key factor in terms of consumers buying homes and qualifying for mortgage loans

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

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates - April 15 2013Mortgage rates saw little change last week amidst mixed economic news.

Treasury auctions held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday saw weak demand; this could have been caused by the FOMC minutes that were released on Wednesday.

The minutes indicated that some FOMC members supported ending the current quantitative easing (QE) program within a few months.

The Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities.

If the QE program is ended, demands for bonds and MBS will decline, which usually raises mortgage rates.

Employment Numbers Show Promise For Housing Market

Thursday’s jobless claims offered some positive news.

Jobless claims fell to 346,000, which is well below Wall Street’s estimate of 365,000 jobless claims and the prior week’s report of 385,000 jobless claims.

As more people find work, more families become able to buy homes.

Demand for homes will boost the housing market, which is already expanding in many areas.

While higher home prices are good for the economy, higher mortgage rates may be likely to follow.

This potentially presents a “double-edged sword” to home buyers with little financial flexibility.

Slower Retail Sales Largely Due To Autos

Retail Sales, which represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy, moved from February’s level of 1.1 percent to -0.4 percent in March.

Expectations were for 0.0 percent change.

The Retail Sales report exclusive of the volatile automotive sector was nearly identical except for the February’s reading of 1.0 percent.

These reports suggest that while the economy is improving in some areas, it has a way to go before it has truly recovered.

Whats Coming Up Next?

This week, investors will be paying attention to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the closely-related Core CPI, which is nearly identical except for its excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors.

These reports will be released on Tuesday for March, with little change expected for the CPI and no change expected for the Core CPI as compared to February.

The CPI is considered an important indicator of inflation.

Unexpected changes in inflationary growth can cause rapid and volatile responses in the financial markets.

Wednesday brings the Fed’s Beige Book, which presents key economic data for each of the Fed’s 12 regions.

Investors watch the Beige Book for signs of the Fed’s position on economic policy during the upcoming FOMC meeting.

Jobless claims will be released Thursday with the expectation of 350,000 claims filed as compared to last week’s 346,000 jobless claims.