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Falling Rates Change Course

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Falling Rates Change Course30-year expected to remain below 6% until Q2 2005

November 5, 2004


A consensus of industry economists indicates currently low mortgage rates will not climb past six percent until the second quarter of next year.

Swerving from their three-week descending course, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average moved up six basis points (BPS) within the past week to 5.70%, and the 15-year average increased seven BPS to 5.08%, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The 62 BPS spread between the 30-year and the 15-year is reportedly four BPS above the level a month ago, but six BPS below last year at this time.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) average of 4.00% nudged up four BPS within the past seven days, Freddie said, and stands about one-quarter of a percentage point higher than a year ago.

“The slight increase in mortgage rates this week was due in large part to volatility in long-term bond yields,” said Frank Nothaft, the mortgage giant’s chief economist, in a prepared statement. “The uncertainty in bond yields reflected weakness in the manufacturing industry that was offset by economic reports of strength in the service sector.”

By Thursday’s close, however, the 10-year Treasury note was trading at a price of 101 12/32 and 4.07% yield, almost unchanged from a week ago when it closed with a 4.05% yield.

“When taken as a whole, this week’s economic data point towards both low mortgage rates and a growing economy,” Nothaft added.

So when will mortgage rates climb to over six percent?

The consensus among the Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae and Freddie is that the 30-year will go beyond that point until the second quarter next year, according to the groups’ latest forecasts.

At, a majority — 56% — of the surveyed panel of mortgage brokers, bankers and other industry participants predicted mortgage rates would rise over the next month and a half, one-third said they’d remain about the same and the rest believed rates will fall.

In the meantime, more mortgage hunters have headed to fill out applications. For the week ending Oct. 29, the stack of mortgage loan applications climbed 8.2% as reflected in the Market Composite Index, which rose to a level of 761.7, according to the MBAs latest survey of mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. The stack was smaller a year ago when it measured 685.2.

The week-to-week increase was mainly due to a jump of nearly 13% in the Purchase Index, MBA said, but the 3% uptick in the Refinance Index helped.

The refinance share reportedly decreased 2% from last week to nearly 46% of total mortgage applications, and the ARM share nudged down closer to 34%.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for email: [email protected]


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