Mortgage Rate Watch
Mortgage Rates Hold Almost Perfectly Steady
Scheduled economic reports are one of the first places the market looks to get a read on interest rate momentum.  Of all the days this week, Thursday boasted the highest concentration of potentially relevant data.  Nonetheless, rates barely budged. In fact, the average lender is perfectly in line with yesterday's latest rate offerings.  This is interesting considering the economic data generally agreed that rates should have moved slightly higher.  In other words, the data was stronger than expected (fewer jobless claims, higher GDP, higher Durable Goods orders).  A stronger economy can support higher rates.  It also fuels inflation, the arch nemesis of low rates. Data affects rates via the bond market and to be fair to bonds, they did lose some ground today.  But there was a bit of a cushion from yesterday afternoon that allowed lenders to hold steady.  Additionally, mortgage-specific bonds did a bit better than the broader bond market. In the bigger picture, none of the recent movement has been significant.  Rates have been declining since November and have generally bottomed out in their current range over the past 2 weeks. [thirtyyearmortgagerates]
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Mortgage Rates Move Modestly Lower
Mortgage rates are primarily determined by the bond market, and it's been an uneventful week for bonds!  That means we haven't seen much of a change in mortgage rates relative to the changes frequently seen over the past year. Bonds began the day in slightly stronger territory before losing ground following comments from the Bank of Canada's top official.  This isn't to say that the Bank of Canada is a major source of inspiration for the US bond market.  Rather, it was simply the most relevant news available to traders today.  Also, when a major foreign central bank does or says anything that's obviously significant in its respective jurisdiction, the effects tend to reverberate among other major central banks, but to a lesser extent. All that to say that interest rates faced some upward pressure in the middle of the day.  Mortgage lenders didn't see enough weakness to make any big changes to their rate offerings, but some of them delayed offering price improvements until the afternoon.  Those improvements were eventually made possible by a recovery in bonds. Keep in mind that all of these "improvements" referenced above are basically microscopic in the bigger picture.  The average lender is right in line with yesterday's rates for the most part, but technically a bit lower if we're splitting hairs.  Borrowers would likely see the same note rate as yesterday but with slightly lower upfront costs, depending on the lender (and whether that lender offered a good price improvement yesterday afternoon, which many did). 
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Mortgage Rates Recover After Starting Higher
Mortgage rates began the day at higher levels than yesterday for the average lender, but the movement was fairly small.  Most lenders were still able to offer the same "note rate" (the actual interest rate attached to a mortgage note), but with slightly higher upfront costs. Economic data contributed to early bond market weakness.  Weaker bonds mean higher rates, all other things being equal.  After the weakness ran its course, bond buyers pounced on the cheaper entry point.  In other words, when bonds are losing ground, bond prices are moving lower (lower bond prices = higher bond yields/rates).   When bonds reached levels that matched yesterday's weakest moments, the new buying demand brought them well into positive territory.  This in turn allowed most lenders to offer a mid-day price improvement that brought today's rates back in line with--or slightly below--yesterday's levels.
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Mortgage Rates Drift Slightly Higher
After hitting the lowest levels in 4 months at times over the past week, rates have drifted up a bit.  There hasn't been much rhyme or reason behind the bounce.  In other words, there wasn't some important economic report or Fed policy shift that spooked the underlying bond market (rates are determined primarily by bond prices/yields).  In fact, it wouldn't be unfair to say that some of the recent upward momentum in rates could simply be a reaction to early January's well of downward momentum running dry.   The week ahead is a bit of a wild card as there are no hotly anticipated events on tap. Some market participants might make a case that the first look at Q4 GDP on Thursday or the PCE inflation on Friday are exceptions to that claim, but they pale in comparison to next week's Fed announcement and Friday's jobs report. The average lender is moving back up toward the mid 6's when it comes to conventional 30yr fixed rates for top tier scenarios.    
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Mortgage Rates Are Actually Slightly Higher This Week
If you cross paths with the average mortgage rate article (or tweet/post/etc) today, chances are you'll see some mention of "rates moving lower."  That's both true and untrue, depending on your perspective. The articles in question would likely be referring to mortgage rates for the current week versus those available last week.  This is likely because Freddie Mac releases its weekly rate survey on Thursdays and the survey is widely cited by news outlets. Dig into the fine print and you'd find that the survey comes out today, but is based on data through yesterday.  Moreover, this week's survey is compared against last week's survey regardless of the rate changes that took place on Thursday and Friday (not counted in last week's survey). That's particularly relevant in this case because last Thursday's rates were the lowest in 4 months and they were only microscopically lower than that during this week's finest moment (which occurred yesterday).  Now today, the average lender is back above the levels seen yesterday and at the end of last week. All that to say that rates aren't really lower than they were last week, even though yesterday's rates were lower than the first 3 days of last week! Stepping back from the microscope a bit, we can simply say that the average lender remains in the low 6% range for top tier conventional 30yr fixed scenarios.  The bigger news for rates may be the changes on the horizon regarding upfront costs based on credit, income, etc. (discussed in greater detail here: Some BIG Changes to Mortgage Costs Were Just Announced).
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