Mortgage markets moved in feverish fashion last week, changing with extreme frequency, and eventually ending slightly worse on the week. Conforming mortgage rates fell to a 6-month low Wednesday but, by Friday, they had retreated higher.
Last week marked just the second time in 8 weeks that rates increased. During that span, Freddie Mac reports that mortgage rates have dropped 42 basis points, or 0.42%.
That equates to a monthly savings of $25.24 per $100,000 borrowed.
One reason why mortgage rates have been dropping is that the economy is growing more slowly than projected. In a speech last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the U.S. recovery as “frustratingly slow”. In a separate speech, another Federal Reserve President, William Dudley, categorized the recovery as “subpar”.
Economic weakness tends to promote a low mortgage rate environment as equity markets sell off and investors seek safety of principal. Indeed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell for the 6th straight week, its longest losing streak since 2002.
Mortgage rates were also helped by ongoing uncertainty in Greece. The nation remains at-risk for default, and that’s spurring a bond market to flight-to-quality which benefits the U.S. mortgage market, too.
This week, mortgage rates may reverse their recent slide. There isn’t much data due for release, but the numbers that will hit the wires have the ability to move markets — especially the inflation-linked figures.
- Tuesday : Producer Price Index, Retail Sales
- Wednesday : Consumer Price Index
- Thursday : Housing Starts
- Friday : Consumer Sentiment
If you’ve been looking at mortgage rates for a purchase or refinance, now may be a good time to lock. FHA and conforming rates are at their lowest levels since December 2010.
Going forward, rates have much more room to rise than to fall.