What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 13, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 13, 2016Last week’s economic news was highlighted by Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in Philadelphia. Although Chair Yellen alluded to future Fed rate hikes, she did not specify when Fed policymakers would next raise the target federal funds rate. 

Increases in the fed funds rate typically signal increases in consumer credit and home mortgage rates. Last week’s speech was seen as a precursor to the Federal Open Market Committee statement that will occur at the conclusion of next week’s FOMC meeting. 

Chair Yellen is also scheduled to give a press conference after the FOMC statement next Wednesday.

Mortgage rates and new jobless claims also fell last week.

Fed Chair Speech: Fed Rate Increases Likely, but Subject to Economic Developments

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that remarks would be “largely favorable” although economic developments were “mixed.” Chair Yellen cited economic progress toward the Fed’s dual goal of achieving maximum employment and price stability. Labor benchmarks included national unemployment below five percent, rising household income and indications of rising wages were cited as positive signs for economic expansion.

Slowing job growth and inflation staying below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent were cited as signs that the U.S. economic recovery is underway, but Chair Yellen also said signs of slower job creation along with uncertainties in global economic conditions and oil prices prevented short-term predictions about how the economy would perform.

Fed Chair Yellen also repeated her usual caution that Fed policy is not set in stone, but instead is subject to FOMC members’ ongoing review of economic developments and related readings.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.60 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.87 percent, which was five basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was six points lower at 2.82 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three loan types tracked by Freddie Mac.

New jobless claims were also lower at 264,000 new claims filed against expectations of 270,000 new claims and 268,000 new claims filed in the prior week.

What’s Ahead This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Fed’s post-meeting FOMC statement and press conference, reports on the consumer price index and core CPI, housing starts and the NAHB Housing Market Index. Reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released according to their weekly schedule.

Economic indicators such as price inflation, rising mortgage rates and housing data impact housing markets and consumers’ ability or willingness to buy homes.  

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 16, 2016

Last week’s economic events included weekly releases on new jobless claims, mortgage rates and testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen concerning the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Here are the details:

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Drop

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last Thursday, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage seven basis points lower at 3.65 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 2.95 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.83 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30 and 15 year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Lower mortgage rates may encourage first-time and moderate income home buyers to enter the market, although slim supplies of available homes and rising home prices have caused ongoing concerns about affordability in many markets.

Weekly jobless claims were also lower. 269,000 new claims were filed as compared to estimated claims of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 285,000 new jobless claims. This was the lowest reading in two months and suggests healthy labor markets as more workers find jobs. Readings lower than 300,000 new jobless claims indicate healthy jobs markets. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was lower by 3500 claims at 281,250 new claims filed. Analysts consider the four-week reading as a more accurate indicator of labor markets as it smooths out anomalies in weekly claims.

Yellen Testimony: Fed Won’t Change Course on Rates

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that she doesn’t expect interest rate cuts in view of slowing economic indicators. In testimony before the House Financial Services panel, Chair Yellen indicated that although there are signs of slower economic conditions, there was still room for economic growth. She cited a strong labor market and strong consumer and business spending as indicators of economic expansion. Analysts interpreted Chair Yellen’s testimony to indicate that the Fed would not likely raise its target federal funds rate in March.

Chair Yellen said that monetary policy is not on a “preset course”. Federal Reserve press releases consistently state that policy makers review current and developing domestic and global economic trends as part of any decision to raise rates. In view of this, Chair Yellen’s testimony did not cover what could happen if future economic developments influence Fed policy. Recent concerns over volatile financial markets caused by the weakening in China’s economy were cited as examples of “downside risks” that could impact the Fed’s monetary policy.

Readings for Consumer Sentiment suggest that consumers are also watching economic developments. February’s reading decreased to 90.7 as compared to January’s reading of 92.0.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits. FOMC minutes and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Feburary 8, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 8 2016Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on construction spending and several labor-related reports along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

Construction Spending Higher in December

U.S. construction spending rose by 0.10 percent in December for a seasonally adjusted annual total of $1.12 trillion. The Commerce Department reported that construction firms spent 10.5 percent more than in 2014.Residential construction spending totaled $416.8 billion for 2015, which was 12.60 percent higher than in 2015.

Higher construction spending can be a double-edged sword, as it can indicate that builders are stepping up construction or that they are paying higher prices for labor and supplies. Builders have consistently cited labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable land as concerns. Short supplies of available homes impacted housing markets in 2015. Low inventories of homes drive up home prices and impact affordability for first-time buyers; these conditions eventually slow housing markets with fewer qualified buyers and home sales.

Fed Benchmarks Show Mixed Readings

The Federal Reserve consistently cites its goals of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent as benchmarks for its decision to raise or not raise the target federal funds rate. National unemployment reached a new low of 4.90 percent in January against expectations of 5.00 percent and December’s reading of 5.00 percent. Inflation held steady with no increase in January; this offsets the good news concerning unemployment. Lower oil prices are holding inflation well below the Fed’s desired rate of 2.00 percent.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.72 percent; the corresponding rate for 15 year mortgages fell six basis points to 3.01 percent and the average rate for a5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped five basis points to2.85 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 285,000 new claims against expectations of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. While rising jobless claims could suggest a slowing jobs market, the low unemployment rate suggests otherwise.

Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP Payrolls Fall

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm payrolls added 151,000 jobs in January as compared to expectations of 180,000 jobs added and December’s reading of 262,000 jobs added in December. Analysts said that January’s reading is further evidence that a long-running decline in new jobless claims has ended.

ADP payrolls were also lower in January with 205,000 new jobs posted as compared to December’s reading of 267,000 private sector jobs added. Holiday hiring likely impacted higher readings in December, but time will tell if declining job growth is trending.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include data on job openings, consumer sentiment and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 18, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 18 2016In addition to weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims, last week’s economic news included the Fed’s Beige Book report, retail sales and consumer sentiment. January’s Empire State Index showed an unexpected dip and Consumer Sentiment increased for January.

Fed’s Beige Book Shows Diverse Economic Trends

According to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report for January, the central bank’s business contacts reported strength in housing, while agriculture, energy and manufacturing sectors were struggling. New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Index for January supported this trend with a sharp drop. New York manufacturing has hit its lowest level since the recession and has stayed in negative territory since March 2009. Two analysts said that the Fed’s recent rate hike and subsequent hikes could slow housing markets. Consumer lending rates, including mortgage rates, typically follow suit when the Fed increases its target federal funds rate. 

In other news, retail sales posted negative growth of -0.10 percent in December against an expected reading of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December retail sales not including auto motive also posted a reading of -0.10 percent as compared to expectations of +0.20 percent and November’s reading of 0.30 percent.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Unemployment Claims Rise

Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to 3.92 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rate also fell by five basis points to 3.19 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points lower at 3.01 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

New unemployment claims rose to 284,000 against expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new claims. Analysts said that the jump in claims resulted from job losses related to temporary holiday positions, but noted that last year’s momentum of falling jobless claims has slowed.

Last week’s economic news ended on a positive note; consumer sentiment rose according to the University of Michigan. Lower prices were credited for the boost in consumer confidence in current economic conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, Consumer Price Index and Core Consumer Price Index. No news will be released on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday.

Federal Reserve Raises Short-Term Interest Rates

Federal Reserve Raises Short Term Interest RatesAfter prolonged speculation by economic analysts and news media, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for the first time in seven years. Committee members voted to raise the target federal funds rate to a range of 0.25 to 0.50 percent from a range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent to be effective December 17. The good news about the Fed’s decision is that the Central Bank had enough confidence in improving economic conditions to warrant its decision. But how will the Fed’s decision affect mortgage rates?

December’s FOMC statement cited improving job markets, increased consumer spending and declining unemployment as conditions supporting the Committee’s decision to raise the target federal funds rate. While inflation has not yet reached the Fed’s goal of two percent, FOMC members were confident that the economy would continue to expand at a moderate pace in spite of future rate increases. The FOMC said that the Central Bank’s monetary policy remained “accommodative.”

Little Impact Expected on Mortgage Rates after Fed Decision

The Fed’s decision to raise short-term rates likely won’t affect mortgage rates in a big way. The Washington Post quoted Doug Douglas, chief economist at Fannie Mae: “This one change, will in the larger scheme of things, will be unlikely to make a dramatic impact on what consumers will feel.”

Mortgage rates, which are connected to 10-year Treasury bonds, may not rise and could potentially fall. While the interest rate increase could increase yields on these bonds, analysts say that multiple factors impact 10-year Treasury bonds, so a rate increase is not set in stone for mortgage rates.

Rising Mortgage Rates Would Impact Affordability and Cost of Buying Homes

Higher mortgage rates could sideline some first-time and moderate income home buyers and would also increase the long-term cost of buying a home. Interest rates on vehicle loans and credit cards are more closely tied to the Fed rate and may rise according to current and future Fed rate hikes. Rising consumer interest rates indirectly impact housing markets as prospective home buyers face higher debt-to-income ratios caused by higher interest rates on car loans and credit card balances.

During a press conference following the Fed’s announcement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that future rate increases would be “gradual.” Chair Yellen said that the Fed’s decision reflects the agency’s confidence in an economy that is on a path of “sustainable improvement.” When questioned about inflation rates, Chair Yellen said that the Fed will closely monitor both expected and actual changes in the inflation rate.

S&P Case-Shiller: September Home Prices Gain Across U.S.

SP CaseShiller September Home Prices Gain Across US

Home prices increased across the S&P Case Shiller 20-City Home Price Index in September. According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Year-over year home price gains increased to 5.50 percent from August’s reading of 5.10 percent. 17 cities posted higher year-over0year price gains in September as compared to August.

Western cities led price gains with San Francisco, California reclaiming its lead with a year-over-year gain of 11.20 percent in September. Denver, Colorado followed with a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent and Portland, Oregon achieved the third highest year-over-year home price gain of 10.10 percent. Phoenix, Arizona had the longest consecutive run of year-over-year price gains for ten months and had a year-over-year gain of 5.30 percent.

Month-to Month Home Prices Indicate Stronger Housing Markets

After seasonal adjustment, the 20-City Home Price Index reported a month-to-month gain of 0.60 percent in September with home price gains in 19 cities. David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Indices Committee, said that home prices are growing at more than twice the rate of inflation. While this is good news for home sellers, it also means that home buyers are finding that home prices are rising faster than other economic sectors. Rising home prices present a challenge for first-time and moderate income home buyers. First-time buyers drive housing markets as their home purchases bring new demand into the market and allow current homeowners to move up to larger homes.

Mr. Blitzer also said that in spite of widespread media coverage of the Federal Reserve’s likely plan to raise its target federal funds rate from 0.00 to 0.250 percent to 0.25 to 0.50 percent in December, the increase in the federal funds rate should not cause an major rise in mortgage rates, which are expected to stay near 4.00 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

Based on readings for national median income, median home price and average mortgage rates, Mr. Blitzer said that affordability for homeowners within the median income range who were buying median priced homes had “slipped recently.”

Year-end reports on housing markets and general economic conditions will likely cause adjustments to forecasts for home prices and affordability. Strong labor markets may improve affordability for home buyers and the actual impact of any Fed move to raise rates will influence housing markets and home prices in 2016.

Case-Shiller Housing Market Index: Home Prices Rise in July

Case Shiller Housing Market Index Home Prices Rise in JulyU.S. home prices rose by 0.10 percent in July according to the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index. San Francisco, California edged past Denver Colorado with a year-over-year price increase of 10.40 percent as compared to Denver’s reading of 10.30 percent. All year-over-readings for the 20-City Home Price Index posted gains, but Washington, D.C. showed the lowest year-over0-year growth rate at 1.70 percent. Chicago, Illinois and New York City followed closely with year-over-year readings of 1.80 percent and 1.90 percent respectively.

Seasonally-Adjusted Home Prices Fall

Although seasonally-adjusted home prices typically rise during the peak home selling season during spring and summer, July’s reports indicated that seasonally-adjusted home prices fell by 0.20 percent in July. Factors including tough mortgage approval requirements and low inventories of available homes likely contributed to slower growth in home prices as demand for homes fell.

Would-be home buyers may also have sat on the sidelines awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision regarding raising rates. The Fed has not raised rates yet, but may do so in October. Mortgage rates are expected to rise when the Fed raises its target federal funds rate, which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25percent.

Western Cities Lead Home Price Growth

Case-Shiller reported that as of July, the West continues to see the highest rates of home price growth. Over the past 12 months, only San Francisco and Denver have shown double-digit growth in home prices. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California have shown the strongest increases in home prices since 2000.

Home prices for cities included in the 20-City Index have risen 35.70 percent since home prices hit their post -recession low in 2012, but remain 13 percent below the housing bubble’s peak prices. All cities in the 20-City Index posted price gains year-over-year as of July and 14 cities posted higher price gains than for the comparable period ending in July 2014.

Trend: Modest Home Price Growth Continues

The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently posted a year-over-year gain of 5.80 percent for home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This news further supports the trend of moderate gains in U.S home prices; moderate growth in home prices could encourage more moderate-income and first-time home buyers to buy homes, particularly in advance of the anticipated increasein mortgage rates when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Hits Highest Rate in 9 Years; Fed Doesn’t Raise Rates

Whats AheNAHB Builder Confidence Hits Highest Rate in 9 Years Fed Doesnt Raise Ratesad For Mortgage Rates This Week September 8 2015The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that home builder confidence rose by one point to a reading of 62 for September. This was the highest reading since November 2005, when the NAHB reported a reading of 68 for home builder confidence. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than those who are not.

NAHB notes that builder confidence has been growing at a moderate pace since July 2014; this is in line with economic conditions in general. Relatively low mortgage rates and stronger labor markets are helping would-be buyers with their decisions to buy homes now.

FOMC Statement and Fed Chair Press Conference: No Rate Hikes Yet

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve revealed that Fed policymakers have decided to wait on raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. While the FOMC statement indicated that policy makers acknowledge moderate progress in economic growth, a majority did not feel that the economy is ready to withstand a rate hike. When the Fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as increases in lending rates for credit cards and loans.

FOMC members said that housing markets were growing at a steady but moderate pace, but that inflation was lagging below the Fed’s benchmark 2.00 percent level due to transitory effects of lower energy and import prices. The Fed expects that inflation will reach its 2.00 percent goal over the medium term and will not likely raise rates until FOMC members are confident that inflation will rise as expected.

FOMC members continued to assert that any decision to raise rates will be based on close review of domestic and global financial and economic trends and will not be based on meeting the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

Committee members also said that economic conditions could continue to warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below normal levels for the longer term.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference after the FOMC statement concluded. She addressed questions about the Fed’s decision not to raise rates and said that concerns over global developments contributed to Fed policy makers’ decision not to raise rates. Ms. Yellen explained that a stronger U.S. dollar has caused deflationary pressures and increased competition for U.S. exports. The Fed isn’t overly concerned about global conditions at present, but changing circumstances could change the Fed’s likely intention to raise rates before year end.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 8, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 8 2015Last week’s economic news included reports on construction spending, private and public sector employment data and a report from the Fed indicating that any move to raise interest rates may be delayed. The details:

Construction Spending Meets Expectations, Beige Book Indicates Wage Pressures

Analysts said that construction is gaining strength and could soon be the strongest sector of the economy. Construction spending for July met growth expectations of 0.70 percent as compared to June’s reading of 0.10 percent. The Commerce Department reported that this reading translated to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.98 trillion, which was the highest rate of spending in the construction sector since May 2008.

Residential construction spending was up 10.80 percent year-over-year in July, with both single-family and multifamily construction posting double digit gains.

The Federal Reserve issued its Beige Book report last Wednesday, which indicated that wage pressures in many of the 13 Fed districts could cause rising inflation, which the Fed has cited as a component in any decision to raise the federal funds rate. The Fed has set a benchmark of 2.0 percent inflation as an indication for raising rates, but doesn’t expect to see this reading in the short term.

Higher wages increase consumers’ discretionary spending, which would contribute to more hiring and increasing demand for goods and services.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Higher

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.89 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage wash higher by three basis points and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose by three basis points to 2.93 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 282,000 new claims against last week’s reading of 270,000 new claims and expectations of 275,000 new jobless claims. While this was the highest reading for new jobless claims in since late June, the reading for new weekly jobless claims has remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the last six months.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims rose by 3250 new claims to an average of 275,500 new claims. Analysts said that layoffs are declining and that workers who lose their jobs are finding new employment quickly.

Continuing jobless claims fell by 9000 to a reading of 2.26 million for the week that ended August 22.

ADP Employment Rises, Non-Farm Payrolls, National Unemployment Rate Fall

Private sector payrolls increased by 190,000 jobs in August as compared to July’s reading of 170,000 jobs according to ADP. This supports the trend of stronger hiring seen by economists in recent weeks. The government reported that Non-farm payrolls, which include public and private sector jobs, fell to 173,000 jobs against July’s reading of 245,000 jobs.

The Commerce Department reported that the national unemployment rate dipped to 5.10 percent in August against expected reading of 5.20 percent and July’s reading of 5.30 percent. The declining unemployment rate further supports economic growth and stronger labor markets.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include job openings, the usual weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates and a report on consumer sentiment.

FOMC Minutes: Rate Hike May be Near

FOMC Minutes Rate Hike May be NearThe minutes for the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that while committee members won’t specify a date, a rate hike could come sooner than later. Committee members continue to cite concerns over labor markets and other economic factors, but the minutes of the FOMC meeting held July 28 and 29 indicate that a majority of members see a rate change as likely in the near term.

Economic Conditions “Approaching” Readiness for Rate Hike

According to the minutes released Wednesday, the time for raising rates is not hear yet, but a majority of FOMC members feel that the time is approaching when economic conditions will warrant an increase of the target federal funds rate which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the Fed increases this rate, consumer loan rates including mortgage rates are expected to increase as well.

Achieving maximum employment is one of the Fed’s mandates; labor markets continue to improve as the national unemployment achieved its lowest reading for 2015 as of June, but labor force participation and the unemployment to population ratio have also declined. On a positive note, the number of part-time workers was lower and under-utilization of workers was lower than since the beginning of the year.

Committee members continued to have varied opinions about whether employment rates are low enough to indicate that the Fed’s mandate of “maximum” employment had been achieved.

Inflation remains below the 2.00 percent medium-term goal set by the Fed. FOMC members have consistently indicated that they don’t expect to see inflation achieve the target rate in the near term.

Housing Markets Show Improvement

The minutes noted that while construction of new homes declined in June, new starts increased over the second quarter. Sales of new homes were lower in June, but sales of existing homes increased. Building permits issued suggest the rate of construction is stable but little changed. Pending home sales were stable and suggest little change in completed home sales in the near term.

A jump in multifamily building permits were attributed to an expiring tax credit date, but housing analysts have repeatedly cited the millennial generation as preferring to live and work in large metro areas where housing can be out of reach for all but the top tier of earners. In other economic sectors, the minutes said that auto loans and student loans continued to grow.

The FOMC minutes indicate the same position of FOMC members in recent months; while the national unemployment rate is low, the Fed does not expect to see inflation at the agency’s target rate of 2.00 percent immediately. Committee members note that they will continue to monitor domestic and global financial conditions as part of the fact-finding process necessary for deciding when to the federal target funds rate,

Speculation over when the Fed will move to raise rates has persisted for several months and will no doubt continue until the Fed does decide to raise rates.