What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 24, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders and releases from the Commerce Department on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips; Builder Sentiment Remains Strong

Higher lumber costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders as contributing to lower readings for the group’s monthly Housing Market Index. July’s reading was two points lower than May’s index reading. The original May reading of 67 was adjusted to 66.

Builders said that a steep tariff on Canadian lumber has raised building costs, but sentiment remains high as high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale set the stage for new home construction. Builder confidence in market conditions for newly-built homes remained strong as any NAHB Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on market conditions.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase in June

Housing starts increased in June to 1.215 starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 1.163 million housing starts based on 1.122 million housing starts reported in May. Building permits were issued at a higher rate in June, with the annual rate of 1.254 million permits issued as compared to May’s rate of 1.168 million permits issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single-family housing starts rose 6.30 percent as compared to May’s reading, which suggested that builders are focusing on building new homes for sale rather than concentrating on multi-family rental projects. If this trend continues, new construction of single-family homes would help ease severe shortages of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling seven basis points to 3.96 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reached their second-lowest post-recession level last week with a reading of 233,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 245,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 248,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic releases set for this week include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 17, 2017

Inflation Rate Stays Flat in June

Inflation was flat in June, but achieved a 0.00 percent reading as compared to May’s – 0.10 percent reading. Analysts expected a June reading of +0.10 percent reading month-to-month. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has established a benchmark reading of 2.00 percent inflation year-over-year as an indication of economic recovery. In recent months, the Fed has increased its target federal funds rate at each meeting of the FOMC. A slowdown in inflation and other economic indicators may cause the Fed to halt rate increases until conditions improve.

Fed Chair Testifies before House Financial Services Panel

During testimony last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen addressed questions about Federal Reserve board members’ interaction with Wall Street. Ms. Yellen explained that the Fed values clear communications with Wall Street as a productive relationship. Chair Yellen also noted that the Fed may taper off on interest rate increases soon; she said that further rate increases may not be warranted at present.

Stating that “monetary policy is not a preset course,” Chair Yellen said that the Fed is aware of problems associated with forecasting higher than actual inflation gains, but also said that the Fed believes that inflation will achieve the 2.00 percent annual goal established by the Fed.

Ms. Yellen hinted that her tenure as Fed Chair may be reaching its conclusion; she did not answer media inquiries about whether she would stay on if asked. She said she was concentrating on current issues instead of focusing on potential developments.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates rose again last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage exceeded four percent for the first time since May with an average rate of 4.03 percent. Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.29 percent. Average mortgage rates for 15 and 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose seven basis points over last week’s average rates. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate also rose seven basis points to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

247,000 new jobless claims were filed last week as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and last week’s reading of 250,000 new claims. First-time jobless claims stayed below 300,000for 123 consecutive weeks. This run is the longest since the 1970s.  Analysts said that low jobless claims indicate a very low rate of layoffs.

Consumer sentiment dropped by two index points from 95.10 to 93.10 percent. Rising mortgage rates and concerns about current events likely contributed to wavering consumer sentiment.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include NAHB Housing Market Indices, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.