Interest Rates Stabilize

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MORTGAGE EXPERT
3 · 31 · 11

Mortgage rates edged up this week but don’t appear headed higher for the moment. Tame inflation helped keep rising rates in check.

Freddie Mac reported in its survey for the week ended March 31 a 5-basis-point weekly rise in the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The 30-year rose to 4.86 percent from 5.08 percent during the same week in 2010.

The increase could have been worse if it were not for benign inflation reports, according to Freddie’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft.

“Inflation as measured by the 12-month growth in the core price index for consumer spending, a metric preferred by the Federal Reserve, is hovering near the lowest pace since 1960 when this data series began,” Nothaft said in the report.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was also moderately higher between last Thursday and today, suggesting mortgage rates could be not much different in next week’s reports. The 10-year yield was trading around 3.46 percent today versus 3.42 percent a week earlier, according to Treasury market data from the Department of the Treasury and WSJ.com.

But that assessment was not matched by Bankrate.com panelists for the week March 31 to April 6. An increase of at least 3 BPS over the next week was forecasted by 59 percent of those surveyed, a little over a third saw no changes ahead and 6 percent predicted a decline.

Freddie’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said that the 30-year averaged 4.97 percent during February, 12 BPS worse than January’s average.

In the U.S. Mortgage Market Index report from Mortech Inc. and MortgageDaily.com for the week ended March 25, the spread between the jumbo 30-year and the conforming 30-year improved to 61 BPS from 63 BPS the previous week.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was also up 5 BPS from a week earlier to 4.09 percent in Freddie’s latest report. The spread between the 15-year and the 30-year was unchanged from last week at 77 BPS

The five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.70 percent in Freddie’s survey, jumping from 3.62 percent seven days prior.

As was the case with fixed rates, the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM was up 5 BPS to 3.26 percent. The one-year was lower, however, than 4.05 percent a year earlier.

At 0.30 percent Wednesday, the index on the one-year ARM — the yield on the one-year Treasury — was 6 BPS higher than the preceding Wednesday, according to the Treasury Department. Another ARM index, the six-month LIBOR, was unchanged at 0.46 percent.

ARMs accounted for 9.53 percent of the latest Mortgage Market Index activity, inching up from 9.43 seven days prior.

Refinance share, meanwhile, fell to 47 percent from 50 percent the prior week in the Mortech-Mortgage Daily report.

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Mortgage Daily Staff

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