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Mortgage Rates (3/18/2009 Afternoon Update)

March 18th, 2009 2:43 PM by Lehel Szucs

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:

This week's FOMC meeting has adjourned with some extremely favorable news regarding the Fed's investment in Treasury securities and mortgage-related bonds. As expected, there was no change made to key short-term interest rates but the post-meeting statement did mention that economic conditions were worse now than at the time of their last meeting in January. They again mentioned concerns about deflation, meaning inflation is not a threat in their minds.

The big news was the size of the investment that the Fed is going to be making in mortgage-related bonds and securities. In a direct effort to push different interest rates lower, including corporate lending and residential mortgage rates, the central bank will be buying up to $300 billion in longer-term bonds over the next six months. They also said that they plan to purchase $750 billion in mortgage backed securities so free up more capital for mortgage lending. T his will likely give the housing and mortgage sectors a much needed boost.

The effect this news had on today's trading was extremely positive for mortgage shoppers. The stock markets have rebounded with the Dow up approximately 50 points and the Nasdaq up 25 points. Both indexes were well in negative territory this morning. The bond market has had an even better reaction to the news. It is currently up a whopping 4 7/32 (135/32) to drive its yield lower by .47%. That is a huge swing and should equate to a very significant improvement to mortgage rates shortly.

Earlier today, the Labor Department gave us the week's most important economic data with the release of February's Consumer Price Index (CPI). It showed a 0.4% rise in the overall reading and a 0.2% increase in the core data reading. Both readings were slightly stronger than expected, indicating prices at the consumer level of the economy were higher than thought. While that is bad news fo r bonds and mortgage rates because inflation erodes the value of a bond's future fixed interest payments, the market downplayed the data in this morning's trading, looking forward to this afternoon's FOMC results.

The Conference Board will post its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for February late tomorrow morning, but I suspect that today's rally and news will carry into tomorrow's morning trading and influence rates more than this report will. The LEI attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.6% decline, indicating that economic activity will likely slow in the coming weeks. That would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates generally speaking, but today's news will probably dominate trading tomorrow regardless of the results of the LEI.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Float if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Float if my clos ing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.


©Mortgage Commentary 2009

Posted in:General
Posted by Lehel Szucs on March 18th, 2009 2:43 PM

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