Mortgage markets improved last week as pricing followed a roller coaster-like pattern. After touching a 6-week high Tuesday, rates rallied to weekly lows Thursday, and then jumped back higher Friday.
Despite the improvement last week overall, mortgage pricing remains significantly worse from the all-time lows set in late-November.
Oddly, last week’s most prominent mortgage-related story wasn’t the most influential one.
On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee adjourned from a two-day meeting. It voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged from its current target zone of 0.000-0.250 percent. This wasn’t news, per se — markets expected the “no change” vote.
However, in its accompanying press release, the Fed appeared more rosy in its economic outlook, citing improving labor markets and low levels of inflation. Results like this are a mixed bag for rate shoppers, but is generally welcomed as good news.
Rates were unchanged after the FOMC release.
The bigger story last week comes from Greece.
Concerns for the country’s debt burden have been in play for weeks, but last week, Standard & Poor’s officially downgraded Greece’s debt rating. The move triggered concerns regarding broader Eurozone debt, especially considering the recent issues in Dubai.
U.S. mortgage markets benefitted from Greece’s troubles as “safe haven” attracted investors, driving down rates Thursday afternoon.
Debt concerns should remain in focus this week. Furthermore, there’s a bevy of domestic data that could swing rates in either direction, too. Most notably, watch for Tuesday’s housing data, Wednesday’s inflation data, and Thursday’s consumer confidence data. Each can be a powerful influence on rates.
There will be less volume on Wall Street because of Christmas and less volume tends to spur mortgage rate volatility. Be wary of swings in either direction.
Markets close early Thursday and will be closed Friday.