Mortgage markets improved last week after a series of hugely volatile trading sessions.
Rates carved out a wide range on the week, culminating in a late-Friday plunge that dropped rates by about 1/8 percent.
It was the first time in 5 weeks that mortgage rates fell.
Volatility like that of last week is nothing new on Wall Street; it’s been a running theme in 2009. Volatility occurs when markets don’t agree on what’s next for the economy and, this year, there’s been a lot of disagreement like that.
Data has been inconsistent. Take last week for example.
At 9:00 AM Tuesday morning, the Case-Shiller Index showed home prices rising nationwide. Because many analysts believe housing fueled the recession, strength in the sector is widely construed a positive for the economy.
Mortgage rates rose on the news.
But then, an hour later, the national consumer confidence report revealed a substantial deterioration in sentiment versus the month prior. The data forced Wall Street to do an about-face.
Housing is important to the economy, but it can’t affect growth like consumer spending can. When Americans are less confident about their future income, they tend to keep their wallets closed, retarding economic growth.
Holiday Shopping Season is getting underway and the last thing businesses want to see is a suddenly reserved American shopper.
This week, the volatility should continue.
In addition to the release of key employment and housing data, the Federal Open Market Committee has a scheduled 2-day meeting. The group’s Wednesday afternoon adjournment will influence mortgage rates.
The Fed is widely expected to keep the Fed Funds Rate in its target range near 0.000 percent, but it won’t be what the Fed does that will matter as much as what the Fed says.
If the FOMC’s press release shows optimism for the economy, mortgage rates will rise in response. Alternatively, if the Fed appears more dour, rates will fall.
Either way, consider locking your rate before the Wednesday afternoon announcement.