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ARM Yields Climb

Average 30-year fixed rate 6.35%

March 31, 2006


photo of Coco Salazar

Short-term rates rose more than long-term rates this week, while applications held steady.

At 6.35%, the average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up 3 basis points from last week and stands 31 BPS above the level a year ago, according to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The 15-year reportedly averaged 6.00%, also up 3 BPS from a week earlier.

The 10-year Treasury note, which serves as the gauge for long-term mortgage rates, was trading early Friday with a 4.81% yield, climbing from 4.69% a week ago but down 2 BPS for the day.

The average for 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages came in at 6.02%, climbing 6 BPS from last week, Freddie said.

The largest reported week-to-week jump -- 10 BPS to 5.51% -- was in the average for ARMs indexed to the 1-year Treasury bill, which itself on Wednesday reportedly had a level of 4.83%, 5 BPS higher than a week earlier.

The Federal Open Market Committee lifted the federal funds rate by 25 BPS to 4.75% Tuesday, reflecting the 14th consecutive increase since June 2004.

"The Fed raised rates this week, as was expected, but the market was a little surprised at the committee's comments, which implied more tightening in the future," stated Freddie Chief Economist Frank Nothaft in an announcement. "That raised the expectation that inflation may be more of a threat than was previously thought, and that kind of thinking promotes upward pressure on mortgage rates like we saw across the board this week."

None of the 100 mortgage "expert" panelists surveyed by Bankrate.com this week see rates sliding over the next 35 to 45 days, as the panel was split in half over whether rates will rise or remain relatively unchanged (plus or minus 2 BPS).

Freddie's latest forecast has the 30-year averaging 6.4% throughout the next two quarters and at 6.5% to throughout the first quarter 2007, much higher than the 6.2% Fannie Mae's updated outlook has listed for the same time frame.

Barely defying two consecutive weekly decreases, applications ticked up 1% for the week ending March 24, with purchase money applications up 3 percent and refinances down 1%, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 37% and the ARM share edged up closer to 29%, MBA said.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]

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