What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 14, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 4-14-14While little housing-related news was released, last week’s economic news showed signs of a brighter economic picture.

Labor statistics were stronger, with job openings up and new jobless claims filed lower than expected.

Mortgage rates fell, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was higher than expected.

More Jobs Available, Fewer New Jobless Claims

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that February job openings rose to 4.20 million, which exceeded January’s reading of 3.9 million jobs. New jobless claims were lower than expected with 300,000 new jobless claims filed against expectations of 316,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 332,000 new jobless claims filed.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 18 and 19. The minutes noted that payroll jobs expanded, but the unemployment rate remained elevated, and inflation was below the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent. Indicators of longer-run inflation expectations were seen as stable.

Severe winter weather was viewed as a cause for slowing economic activity. FOMC noted that it would be difficult to determine the effects of winter weather on the economy as opposed to slower economic growth caused by unemployment or other negative factors.

Housing Starts and Building Permits were lower, but FOMC noted the impact of winter weather on these reports. FOMC asserted its intention to continue reducing its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion per month as economic conditions permit.

The FOMC emphasized its commitment to continuous review of financial and economic news as it makes month-to-month decisions concerning asset purchases.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Consumer Sentiment Rises

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.41 to 4.34 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 3.47 to 3.38 percent, and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by three basis points from 3.12 percent to 3.09 percent.

Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively. Lower mortgage rates may encourage more buyers into the market as the spring and summer buying season gets under way.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for April rose to 82.60 percent against the March reading of 80.00 percent and the projected reading of 80.80 percent. If expectations prove correct, this week’s economic reports are expected to bring more good news.

Whats Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales for March, which are expected to show a gain, the Consumer Price Index which is expected to hold steady, and the Home Builder Index, which is expected to rise.

Projections for Housing Starts are also higher. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to give a speech in New York on Wednesday, and the Fed Beige Book report will also be released. This week’s economic reports will wrap up Friday with Leading Economic Indicators. 

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 7, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 7, 2014Last week’s economic news included readings on February construction spending and multiple reports on employment data.

Private sector employment was higher in March, but The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-Farm Payrolls for March fell short of expectations. According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates ticked upward.

Employment And Unemployment News

ADP’s payrolls report for March was higher than February’s reading, with 191,000 new private sector jobs added. In February, 178,000 jobs were added. February’s reading originally showed 138, 000 new jobs added.

While analysts were confident that private-sector employment was showing signs of stability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics swamped excess confidence in labor markets Friday with its March reading for Non-Farm Payrolls.

192,000 jobs were added in March against predictions of 200,000 jobs added and February’s reading of 197,000 jobs added.

The news was not all bad as job gains for January and February were revised upward. January’s job gains were revised from 129,000 to 144,000 and February’s reading was revised from 175,000 to 197,000 jobs added. The revised readings represent a total of 37,000 more jobs added.

As data impacted by severe winter weather “shakes out,” it would not be surprising to see a revision to March’s new jobless claims reading as well.

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady, Workforce Numbers Higher

While readings on employment have been up and down in recent months, the national unemployment rate has held relatively steady, with last week’s reading at 6.70 percent. 503,000 workers joined the workforce this increased the labor participation rate for March from 63 percent to 63.20 percent.

Mortgage rates were incrementally higher last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 4.41 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.47 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.12 percent, which was two basis points higher than the previous week. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.50 percent.

This Week’s Economic News Highlights

Job openings for February, FOMC minutes and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March are set for release this week. As usual, Freddie Mac will post results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey and weekly unemployment claims will also be reported.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 31, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 31,2014

Last week’s economic news includes several reports about housing markets.

The S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city housing market indices, the FHFA House Price Index, New Home Sales and Pending Home sales reports suggest that the national housing market continues to grow, but at lower rates.

Regional readings varied and suggested that winter weather was a negative influence on affected markets.

In a press conference held on March 19 Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that severe winter weather had interfered with the Fed’s ability to get a clear reading on economic developments.

The Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for January showed year-over-year growth of 13.50 and 13.20 percent respectively. The 20-City Home Price Index reported that 12 of 20 cities reported slower rates of home price appreciation.

The 10-City Index ticked upward, but was little changed. The 20-City index posted its third consecutive month-to-month decline in home prices with a reading of -0.10 percent.

Las Vegas, Nevada led cities posting gains with a month-to-month reading of +1.10 percent, but home values remain 45 percent below peak prices achieved in August 2006.

David M. Blitzer, chair of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that home prices were up 23 percent over their lows in 2012.

FHFA Data Reflects Slower Growth in Home Prices

The FHFA House Price Index reports home price trends for sales of homes with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. January’s data reported a year-over-year gain of 7.40 percent, which is approximately 8.0 percent below its peak in April 2007.

Month-to-month home prices varied within the nine U.S. Census regions and ranged from -0.30 percent to +1.30 percent.

FHFA reported that year-over-year, all nine regions reported gains in home prices that ranged from +3.20 percent in the Middle Atlantic region to 14.0 percent home price growth in the Pacific region.

New and Pending Home Sales Slow

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, February sales of new homes matched projections at 440,000 as compared to January’s revised reading of 455,000 new homes sold, which was a year-over-year high.

New home sales improved by 37 percent in the Midwest, but fell in the Northeast, South and West. This suggests that while winter weather played a role, but that housing markets are cooling in general.

Rising mortgage rates and concerns over new lending standards likely contributed to the drop in sales.

Pending home sales slumped in February according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

February’s index reading of 93.9 as compared to January’ index reading of 94.7 represented the eighth consecutive monthly drop for pending home sales and was the lowest reading since October 2011.

Pending home sales indicate future completed sales. Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, noted that home sales delayed by winter weather may be completed this spring.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Lower Than Predicted

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising eight basis points to 4.40 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates rose 10 basis points to 3.42 percent.

Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 3.02 percent to 3.08 percent.

Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent and ticked upward from 0.40 to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Construction Spending for March,  ADP payrolls for March along with Freddie Mac’s PMMS weekly report on mortgage rates and the BLS Non-Farm Payrolls report. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 17, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 17 2014

Last week’s economic reports provided rays of light as compared to the recent slump in positive economic news.

Unusually severe winter weather conditions affected housing-related indicators as home builders and home buyers stayed on the sidelines.

With spring on the horizon, last week’s economic news showed welcome signs of growth.

Job Openings Up, New Jobless Claims Fall

Employment is a major factor in the decision to buy a home; would-be home buyers received a vote of confidence last week as January’s job openings increased by one million to 40 million as compared to December’s reading of 39 million job openings.

February’s reading will likely reflect a lull in activity due to winter weather conditions in much of the U.S.

Weekly jobless claims fell from 324,000 to 315,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported expectations of 330,000 new jobless claims, so the latest report was good news.

Weekly reports are more volatile than monthly statistics; analysts typically track employment trends by reviewing rolling averages of several weeks’ new jobless claims data.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Rise

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 4.37 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.38 percent; this was an increase of six basis points

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.09 percent, up from the previous week’s reading of 3.03 percent.

Discount points dipped from 0.70 to 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, were unchanged for 15-year and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages at 0.60 and 0.40 percent.

Retail sales increased for the first time in three months according to the Commerce Department.

February retail sales surpassed expectations of a 0.20 percent gain and came in at 0.30 percent. January figures were downwardly adjusted to -0.60 percent. Retail sales exclusive of automotive sales were also higher at 0.30 percent than expectations of 0.10 percent.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index for mark was slightly lower at 79.9 than expectations of 80.8.

This was the lowest reading in four months, and was attributed in part to higher gas prices and consumer concerns over developments in Ukraine.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s economic news includes several housing-related reports.

The NAHB Home Builder Index for March, Housing Starts and Building Permits for February, and Existing Home Sales are set for release.

On Wednesday, the Fed’s FOMC statement will be released and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. The Fed is expected to continue its ongoing tapering of quantitative easing.

Leading economic indicators will be released along with the Weekly Jobless Claims report and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 10, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates March 10 2014Last week’s economic news included construction spending and the CoreLogic Home Price Index for January.  Reports for February included ADP Employment, Non-Farm Payrolls and national unemployment data.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims rounded out the week’s economic news.

Highlights for last week include:

Consumer spending gained 0.40 percent for January. The expected reading was 0.20 percent and the reading for December was flat.

The Commerce Department reported that increased spending was less an indicator of consumer discretionary spending than an indicator of high utility costs caused by severe winter weather.

Construction spending ticked upward in January with gain of 0.10 percent as compared to expectations of -0.40 percent and the prior month’s reading of 0.10 percent.

January’s reading translates to a seasonally adjusted annual figure of $943.1 billion.  

Federal Reserve: Winter Weather Obscures Accurate Economic Outlook

According to the Fed’s Beige Book report, much of the U.S. economy was impacted by severe winter weather. The report is based on anecdotal information provided by business contacts and industry leaders throughout the 12 regions of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.

Eight regions reported slow economic growth. Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed, noted that winter weather was not expected to alter the Fed’s plan to continue reducing its asset purchases under its quantitative easing program. She also said that it may be months before accurate economic readings can be obtained in the aftermath of winter weather conditions.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought good news on Thursday as mortgage rates fell across the board and discount points were also lower in most cases.

Average mortgage rates were down nine basis points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.28 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.32 percent, a decrease of seven basis points.

The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.03 percent, down by two basis points from the prior week. Discount points were unchanged for 30-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.70 percent, but dropped to 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Employment Sector: Surprise Results

The ADP payroll report showed a reading of 139,000 jobs added in February as compared to the prior month’s 127,000 jobs. ADP tracks private sector jobs. The BLS released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for February, which also surpassed expectations.

175,000 jobs were added against expectations of 140,000 jobs added and January’s reading of 129,000 jobs added. The national unemployment rate rose to 6.70 percent against an expected drop to 6.50 percent from January’s reading of 6.60 percent. Once again, foul weather was seen as a major influence.

Whats Ahead This Week

This week’s economic news schedule is relatively light with no releases set for today.

Mortgage rates will be released by Freddie Mac on Thursday, along with weekly jobless claims. Retail sales and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index round out next week’s schedule. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week: February 11th, 2013

Homebuilder Confidence ImprovesMortgage rates worsened last week in response to more indications that the U.S. economy and global economic trends are improving. Global economic data was stronger than expected; which generally boosts investor confidence and leads to higher mortgage rates across the country.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.53 percent with borrowers paying all of their closing costs and 0.8 percent in discount points along with a full complement of closing costs.

The U.S Department of Commerce reported that Factory Orders for December improved over November; they rose from 0.0 percent in November to 1.89 percent in December, but fell short of Wall Street’s expectation of 2.5 percent.

The ISM Services Index for January was released Tuesday and fell to 55.2 from December’s reading of 56.1 and was slightly higher than against investors’ expectations of 55.0. Readings above 50 indicate expansion of the service sector of the economy. The ISM Services Index is also an indicator of future inflationary pressure.

Homebuilders Say Markets Improve For 6th Consecutive Month

On Wednesday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), which provided good news for housing markets in all 50 states and Washington, D. C. Metro housing markets surveyed showed expansion of improving markets for the sixth consecutive month.

259 of the 361 metro areas surveyed in the IMI showed improvement in February. By comparison, only 12 improving metro markets were reported for September of 2011.

Increasing home prices and mortgage rates suggest that now may be the time for buying a home.

The weekly Jobless Claims report released on Thursday indicated that 366,000 new claims were filed, which was higher than Wall Street’s estimate of 360,000 new jobless claims, but lower than the previous week’s 368,000 new jobless claims.

Falling U.S. Trade Deficit Signals Economic Uptick

The best economic news for last week came on Friday, when the U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level since January 2010. The Trade Balance Report for December shows the trade deficit at -$38.5 billion against expectations of -$46 billion and November’s deficit of -$48.7 billion. While a great boost for the economy, this is another indicator that recent low mortgage rates and home prices may soon become history.

Economic News scheduled for this upcoming week includes U.S. Treasury Auctions set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Retail Sales for January will be released on Wednesday and watched closely by investors. Retail sales account for approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy and are viewed as a strong indicator of the economy’s direction.

Jobless Claims on Thursday, Industrial Production and Consumer Sentiment on Friday round out the week’s economic reports.

Improving Market Index : Up To 201 Cities For December 2012

December IMI includes 201 citiesLast week’s National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) brought positive news about U.S. housing markets and the broader U.S. economy, in general.

According to the IMI, there are now 201 U.S. markets which can be considered “improving”.

To meet this standard, a local area economy must exhibit at least six consecutive months of improvement in terms of local employment, single-family housing permits and area home prices; and, at least six months must have passed since each of these readings were at their respective low points, called troughs.

The Improving Market Index added 76 metropolitan areas in December as compared to the month prior. 45 states are now represented on the list, in addition to the District of Columbia.

The cities deemed “improving” aren’t limited to recent, high-profile hot spots such as Detroit, Michigan; and Phoenix, Arizona, either. Several of the newly-included areas for December were :

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bloomfield, Illinois
  • Ithaca, New York
  • Riverside, California
  • Seattle, Washington

The geographic diversity of this month’s Improving Market Index suggests a nationwide economic recovery in progress. More jobs, a steady supply of available homes, plus rising home prices helps communities thrive.

Unfortunately, it may also mean less opportunity to buy homes as rock-bottom prices.

As sellers and home builders gain confidence in the economy, it may be more challenging for today’s buyers to get a “great deal”.  In addition, an improving, post-recession economy will likely lead mortgage rates higher, robbing home buyers of their purchasing power.

Freddie Mac says that the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is 3.32% nationwide. In a fully-recovered economy, that rate could be 5 percent or higher. The impact on monthly housing payments would be palpable.

The National Association of Homebuilders expects more markets to join the Improving Market Index list through 2013. Today’s home buyers may want to lock in today’s low rates before economic improvement leads mortgage rates higher.

The Federal Reserve Begins A 2-Day Meeting Today

Fed Funds RateThe Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins a 2-day meeting today, its last of 8 scheduled meetings this year.

The Federal Open Market Committee is a 12-person subcommittee within the Federal Reserve. It’s the group which votes upon U.S. monetary policy. 

The monetary policy action for which the FOMC is most well-known is its setting of the Fed Funds Funds. The Fed Funds Rate is the interest rate at which banks borrow money from each other overnight.

Since late-2008, the Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent.

Prime Rate, a business and consumer interest rate used in lines of credit and credit card rates, is based on the Fed Funds Rate. Prime Rate has been similarly unchanged since 2008.

One rate which the Federal Reserve does not set is the 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) rate.

Like all other mortgage rates, the 30-year FRM is based on the market value of mortgage-backed bonds; securities bought and sold by investors.

There is no correlation between the Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds Rate and the everyday homeowner’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate. Some months, the two rates converge. Other months, they diverge. Since 2000, they’ve been separated by as many as 5.29 percentage points.

They’ve been as close as 0.52 percentage points.

However, although the Federal Reserve does not set U.S. mortgage rates, that doesn’t mean that it can’t influence them. The Fed’s post-meeting press release has been known to make mortgage rates get volatile.

If, in its post-meeting press release, the Fed notes that the U.S. economy is slowing and that new economic stimulus is warranted, mortgage rates will likely fall. This is because additional Fed stimulus would likely lend support to U.S. mortgage markets which would, in turn, boost demand for mortgage-backed bonds.

Conversely, if the Fed acknowledges stronger-than-expected growth in the U.S. economy and no need for new stimulus, mortgage rates are expected to rise.

Either way, mortgage rates will change Wednesday upon the FOMC’s adjournment — we just don’t know in which direction. Rate shoppers may see fluctuations of as much as 0.250 percent.

The FOMC adjourns at 12:30 PM ET.

October Jobs Report Blows Away Estimates; Mortgage Rates Falling

U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls 2010-2012

Another month, another good showing for the U.S. economy.

Mortgage rates are performing surprisingly well after Friday’s release of the October 2012 Non-Farm Payrolls report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report beat Wall Street expectations, while also showing a giant revision to the previously-released job tallies of August and September.

171,000 net new jobs were created last month against calls for 125,000 and revisions for the two months prior totalled 84,000.

October also marked the 25th consecutive month of U.S. job growth — a period during which 3.8 million jobs have been reclaimed. This sum represents more than half of the 7.3 million jobs lost between 2008-2009.

Nationally, the Unemployment Rate rose by one-tenth of one percent last month to 7.9%. It may seem counter-intuitive to see unemployment rates rise even as job growth soars. However, it’s a sign of economic strength.

October’s rising Unemployment Rate is the result of more workers entering the U.S. workforce and actively looking for jobs, a manifestation of rising consumer confidence levels and optimism for the future.

Typically, mortgage rates would worsen on a strong jobs report like this. This month, however, rates are improving. This is mostly the result of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to create a drag on the U.S. economy with its $50 billion damage tag.

The storm has Wall Street looking past the strong jobs report, positioning itself for the next few months. Investors are moving into less risky assets until the uncertainty surrounding the storm’s effects subside. Mortgage-backed bonds are considered “safe” and are benefiting from this safe haven buying pattern.

For home owners and buyers nationwide, the shift is yielding an opportunity to lock mortgage rates at artifically-low levels. 30-year fixed rate mortgages remain well below 3.50% for borrowers willing to pay discount points, and home affordability is approaching an all-time high.

Home values are expected to rise through 2013 so consider this week’s low rates a gift. If you’re in a position to go to contract and/or lock a mortgage rate, you may want to take that step today.

New Home Supply Remains Firmly In “Seller’s Market” Territory

New Home Supply chartThe U.S. housing market appears headed for a strong close to 2012.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of new homes sold jumped to 389,000 units in September 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

Not since the expiration of the $8,000 federal home buyer tax credit in April 2010 have new homes sold at such volumes.

September’s tally marks a 5.7 percent increase from the month prior, and a 27 percent increase from September 2011. There are now just 145,000 new homes for sale nationwide and, according to the National Association of Homebuilders, buyer demand continues to grow.

At today’s pace of home sales, the entire U.S. inventory of new homes for sale would sell out in 4.5 months. By way of comparison, in January 2009, new home supply was 12.1 months.

When home supplies dip below 6.0 months, analysts say, it signifies a “seller’s market”; one in which sellers tend to benefit from negotiation leverage over buyers. The national New Home Supply has been below 6.0 months since October 2011.

Perhaps that’s one reason why the average new home sale price has climbed 14.5 percent over the past 12 months to $292,400; and why median new home sales prices have made a similar jump.

With builders reporting prospective buyer foot traffic at its highest level since 2006, home supplies are shrinking at a time when buyer demand is rising.  Low mortgage rates and affordable housing choices contribute, too.

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have been under 4 percent for all of 2012, and are now under 3.50% nationwide. Low rates make for low monthly payments but, like home prices, conditions can’t remain buyer-friendly forever.

For today’s home buyers of new construction, the outlook for finding “great deals” in 2013 may be grim. New home prices are expected to rise and supplies will continue to get scarce. The best homes in the new construction market, therefore, may be the ones you buy today.

By early-next year, low home prices may be gone, and low mortgage rates may be, too.