Archive for the ‘FOMC’ Category

Comments Off on The Federal Reserve Meets Today. Should You Lock Your Rate Before It Adjourns?

The Federal Reserve Meets Today. Should You Lock Your Rate Before It Adjourns?


2010
09.21

Comparing 30-year fixed mortgage rate to Fed Funds Rate since 1990The Federal Open Market Committee adjourns from its 6th scheduled meeting of the year today, and 7th overall.

Upon adjournment, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will release a formal statement to the market. In it, the Fed is expected to announce “no change” to the Fed Funds Rate.

Currently, the Fed Funds Rate is within a target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.  It’s been at this same level since December 2008.

Note that the Feds Funds Rate is not “a mortgage rate” — nor is it a a consumer rate of any kind. The Fed Funds Rate is a rate that defines the cost of an overnight loan between banks. And, although the Fed Funds Rate has little direct consequence to everyday Mesa homeowners, it is the basis for Prime Rate, the interest rate on which most consumer cards are based, plus many business loans, too.

Therefore, because the Fed Funds Rate won’t change today, neither will credit card rates.  Mortgage rates, however, are a different story.  Mortgage rates should change today — regardless of what the Fed does.

It’s more about what the Fed says.

In its statement, the Federal Reserve will highlight strengths and weaknesses in the economy, and threats to growth over the next few quarters. Depending on how Wall Street interprets these remarks, mortgage rates may rise or fall.

If the Fed’s comments signal better-than-expected growth, bond markets should lose and mortgage rates should rise. Conversely, if the Fed’s comments signal worse-than-expected growth, mortgage rates should fall.

If you’re actively shopping for a mortgage, it may be prudent to lock your rate ahead of the Fed’s announcement today. The Fed adjourns at 2:15 PM ET.  Call your loan officer to lock your rate.

The Fed meets 8 times annually.

Comments Off on August’s Fed Minutes Lead Mortgage Rates Higher

August’s Fed Minutes Lead Mortgage Rates Higher


2010
09.02

FOMC August 2010 MinutesHome affordability took a slight hit this week after the Federal Reserve’s release of its August 10 meeting minutes.

The “Fed Minutes” is a lengthy, detailed recap of a Federal Open Market Committee meeting, not unlike the minutes published after a corporate conference, or condo association gathering. The Federal Reserve publishes its meeting minutes 3 weeks after a FOMC get-together.

The minutes are lengthy, too.

At 6,181 words, August’s Fed Minutes is thick with data about the economy, its current threats, and its deeper strengths. The minutes also recount the conversations that, ultimately, shape our nation’s monetary policy.

It’s for this reason that mortgage rates are rising. Wall Street didn’t see much from the Fed that warranted otherwise.

Among the Fed’s observations from its minutes:

  • On the economy : The recession was deeper than previously believed
  • On jobs : Private employment is expanding slowly
  • On housing : The market was “quite soft” in June

Now, none of this was considered “news”, per se. If anything, investors were expecting for harsher words from the Fed; a bleaker outlook for the economy. And, because they didn’t get it, monies moved to stocks and mortgage bonds lost.

That caused mortgage rates to rise.

The Fed meets 8 times annually. Its next meeting is scheduled for September 21, 2010.  Until then, mortgage rates should remain low and home affordability should remain high. There will be ups-and-downs from day-to-day, but overall, the market is favorable.

Comments Off on A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (August 10, 2010 Edition)

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (August 10, 2010 Edition)


2010
08.10

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, in its first meeting in 6 weeks, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. 

The Fed Fund Rate remains at a historical low, within a prescribed target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC said that, since June, the pace of economic recovery “has slowed”. Household spending is increasing but remains restrained because of high levels of unemployment, falling home values, and restrictive credit.

Today’s statement shows less economic optimism as compared to the prior year’s worth of FOMC statements dating back to June 2009. The Fed is looking for growth to be “more modest in the near-term” than its previous expectations.

Weaknesses aside, the Fed highlighted strengths in the economy, too:

  1. Growth is ongoing on a national level
  2. Inflation levels remain exceedingly low
  3. Business spending is rising

As expected, the Fed re-affirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”.

There were no surprises in the Fed’s statement so, as a result, the mortgage market’s reaction to the release has been neutral. Mortgage rates in Arizona are unchanged this afternoon.

The FOMC’s next meeting is scheduled for September 21, 2010.

Comments Off on The Fed Is Meeting Today. Should You Float Or Lock Your Mortgage Rate?

The Fed Is Meeting Today. Should You Float Or Lock Your Mortgage Rate?


2010
08.10

Fed Funds Rate June 2007-June 2010The Federal Open Market Committee holds a one-day meeting today, its fifth scheduled meeting of the year, and sixth overall since January.

The FOMC is the government’s monetary policy-setting arm and the group’s primary tool for that purpose is an interest rate called the Fed Funds Rate

The Fed Funds Rate is the prescribed rate at which banks borrow money from each other and, since December 16, 2008, the Federal Reserve has voted to keep the benchmark rate within a target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

It’s the lowest Fed Funds Rate in history.

Because the Fed Funds Rate is near zero, it’s accommodative of economic growth, spurring businesses and consumers to borrow money on the cheap. This, in turn, fosters economic growth within a U.S. economy that is somewhat tentative and facing headwinds.

The Fed has said over and again that it will hold the Fed Funds Rate “exceptionally low” for as long as conditions warrant.  It’s expect that the Fed will reiterate that message in today’s post-meeting press release.

However, just because the Fed Funds Rate won’t be changing today, that doesn’t mean that mortgage rates won’t.  Mortgage rates are not set by the Federal Reserve; open markets make mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates in AZ tend to be volatile when the Fed is meeting. This is because the Fed’s press release highlights strengths and weaknesses in the economy and, depending on how Wall Street views those remarks, bond markets can undulate and mortgage rates are based on the price of mortgage-backed bonds.

When Ben Bernanke & Co. speak, Wall Street listens. 

The Fed’s press release today will be dissected and analyzed.  Talk of higher-than-expected inflation, or better-than-expected growth should have a negative effect on rates. Talk of an economic slowdown may help rates to fall.

Either way, we can’t be certain what the Fed will say or do this afternoon so if you’re floating a rate right now and wondering whether the time is right to lock, the safe choice is to lock before 2:15 PM ET today.

Comments Off on The Fed’s June Minutes Keep Mortgage Rates In Rally-Mode

The Fed’s June Minutes Keep Mortgage Rates In Rally-Mode


2010
07.16

FOMC June 2010 MinutesAccording to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates made new all-time lows this week and the good news is that rates look poised to fall even more.

Since the Federal Reserve’s release of its June 2010 meeting minutes Wednesday, mortgage rates are dipping even more and one of the main reasons why is because of some choice Fed words.

If you’ve never seen a Fed Minutes release, it reads academic. The document is page after page of stats, facts and figures about the U.S. economy, accompanied by an in-depth recap of the intra-Fed member debates that shape the nation’s monetary policy.

At 7,333 words, the June Fed Minutes is the unabridged version of the more well-known, post-meeting press release.  The corresponding press release was just 360 words.

As it turns out, Wall Street didn’t like what it read in the minutes.  Specifically:

  1. The Fed expects below normal growth through 2012
  2. The Fed’s outlook for employment has dipped
  3. Credit conditions are easing only slowly

Furthermore, the Fed said its action may be needed if the economy were “to worsen appreciably”.

Overall, the economic optimism the Fed displayed earlier this year appears to be waning. The economy is moving forward — just not as quickly as expected.  That should bode well for mortgage rates and home shopping in Mesa.

Mortgage rates were down Wednesday afternoon and Thursday and remain historically low. All it would take to reverse rates, however, is a run of positive news on jobs, growth, and consumer spending.  Therefore, if you know you need to lock a mortgage rate in the near-term, it may be a good time to make the call. 

Lock your mortgage rate and move on.

Comments Off on The Fed’s April Minutes Push Mortgage Rates Even Lower

The Fed’s April Minutes Push Mortgage Rates Even Lower


2010
05.20

FOMC April 2010 Minutes

After starting the day in the red, mortgage rates rebounded Wednesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve released its April 27-28, 2010 meeting minutes.

It’s good news for home buyers and would-be refinancers in Scottsdale.  Mortgage rates continue to troll along multi-year lows.

“Fed Minutes” are lengthy, detailed recaps of Federal Open Market Committee meetings, not unlike the minutes you’d see after a corporate conference, or condo association gathering. The Federal Reserve publishes Fed Minutes 3 weeks after each respective FOMC get-together.

The Fed meets 8 times annually.

Because of the minutes’ content and density, it’s of tremendous value to Wall Street and investors.  Fed Minutes provide a glimpse into the conversations and debates that shape the country’s monetary policy.

The broad scope of the published meeting minutes are in sharp contrast to the more well-known, post-meeting press release which reads more like a policy summary.

And the extra words matter.

Here’s some of what the Fed discussed last month:

  • On Greece : A crisis in Greece could slow U.S. domestic growth
  • On housing : Despite government support, growth appears to have stalled
  • On its mortgage buyback program : There’s little reason to sell mortgage bonds right now

When the markets saw the Fed Minutes, what had been a down day for bond markets turned positive. The less-than-sunny outlook for the near-term U.S. economy sparked bond sales, pushing prices higher.

Mortgage rates move opposite mortgage bond prices.

Wall Street is always in search of clues from inside the Fed about what’s next for the economy and post-FOMC minutes usually give good fodder.  April’s meeting was no different.

For now, mortgage rates remain near all-time lows but once the Eurozone issues are settled, rates are likely to rise. If you haven’t locked a mortgage rate, your window may be closing.  Once the economy is turning around for certain, mortgage bonds will be among the first of the casualties.

Comments Off on The Fed Adjourns From A 2-Day Meeting Today And What It Means For Mortgage Rates

The Fed Adjourns From A 2-Day Meeting Today And What It Means For Mortgage Rates


2010
04.28

Comparing 30-year fixed mortgage rate to Fed Funds Rate since 1990The Federal Reserve adjourns from a scheduled, 2-day meeting today.  It’s one of 8 scheduled Fed meetings for 2010.

Upon adjournment, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke & Co. will release a formal statement to the market. In it, the Fed is expected to announce “no change” in the Fed Funds Rate.

The Fed Funds Rate is currently in a target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The Fed Funds Rate is an inter-bank lending rate. It’s also the basis for Prime Rate, a consumer interest rate on which credit card payments are based, among other consumer loans.  Prime Rate is equal to the Fed Funds Rate + 3 percent.  Credit card rates, therefore, will likely stay flat today, too.

Mortgage rates, however, should change.  Possibly by a lot.  The 30-year fixed mortgage does not correlate with the Fed Funds Rate (as shown in the chart at right).

The reason mortgage rates will change today is because, in its statement, the Federal Reserve will highlight vrious parts of the economy, identifying strengths, weaknesses and probable threats to growth. 

These observations influence investors with a stake in bond markets and future returns and, with Wall Street on edge right now — unsure of whether recent economic growth is a longer-term trend or a short-lived blip —  mortgage rates could shoot higher or they could drop, depending on how traders interpret the Fed.

It’s a difficult time to be shopping mortgages in Arizona.

Further complicating matters is Greece’s recent debt downgrade to junk status. A small contagion fear is budding worldwide and, as a result, the flight-to-quality has picked up steam. Mortgage rates are down because of it but could reverse higher at any moment.

Therefore, if you’re actively shopping for a mortgage today, it may be prudent to lock your rate ahead of the Fed’s announcement and any major market reversal. Mortgage rates may fall today, but there’s very little room for them to fall.  This is, however, a lot of room for them to rise.

The Fed adjourns at 2:15 PM ET.  Call your loan officer to lock your rate.

Comments Off on A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (April 28, 2010 Edition)

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (April 28, 2010 Edition)


2010
04.27

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within in its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that, since March, the U.S. economy “has continued to strengthen” and that the jobs markets “is beginning to improve”.  This is a step up from the last meeting after which the Fed said jobs were “stabilizing”. 

It also reiterated that business spending “has risen significantly”.

Today’s statement marks the 7th straight press release in which the Fed shows optimism for the U.S. economy. Furthermore, the Fed has now closed all but one of the programs it created to support markets during last year’s financial crisis.

Threats remain to growth, however. The Fed fingered a few:

  1. Employers are reluctant to hire new workers
  2. High unemployment threatens consumer spending
  3. Consumer credit (still) remains tight

Also in its statement, the Fed re-acknowledged its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period”.  This was expected.

Overall, the statement’s tone was positive and the Fed noted that inflation is within tolerance. 

Mortgage market reaction has been muted thus far. Mortgage rates in Scottsdale are unchanged post-FOMC.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day affair, June 22-23, 2010.  The 55-day span between meetings will be the FOMC’s longest of 2010.

Comments Off on A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 16, 2010 Edition)

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 16, 2010 Edition)


2010
03.16

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged, in its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that the U.S. economy “has continued to strengthen” and that the jobs markets “is stabilizing”.  It also said that business spending has “has risen significantly”.

This is a slight departure from the Fed’s January statement in which housing was not mentioned and business spending was said to be “picking up”.

It’s also the sixth straight statement from the FOMC in which the Fed described the economy with optimism.  This is a signal to markets that 2008-2009 recession is over and that economic growth is returning.

The economy is not without threats, however, and the Fed identified several:

  1. High unemployment threatens consumer spending
  2. Housing starts are at a “depressed level”
  3. Consumer credit remains tight

The message’s overall tone, however, remained positive and inflation is within tolerance limits

Also in its statement, the Fed confirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period” and to end its $1.25 trillion commitment to the mortgage market by March 31, 2010. Fed insiders estimate that the bond-buying program lowered mortgage rates by 1 percent since its start.

Mortgage market reaction to the Fed press release is, in general, ambivalent. Mortgage rates in Scottsdale are unchanged this afternoon.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day affair, April 27-28, 2010.

Comments Off on A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 16, 2010 Edition)

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 16, 2010 Edition)


2010
03.16

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged, in its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that the U.S. economy “has continued to strengthen” and that the jobs markets “is stabilizing”.  It also said that business spending has “has risen significantly”.

This is a slight departure from the Fed’s January statement in which housing was not mentioned and business spending was said to be “picking up”.

It’s also the sixth straight statement from the FOMC in which the Fed described the economy with optimism.  This is a signal to markets that 2008-2009 recession is over and that economic growth is returning.

The economy is not without threats, however, and the Fed identified several:

  1. High unemployment threatens consumer spending
  2. Housing starts are at a “depressed level”
  3. Consumer credit remains tight

The message’s overall tone, however, remained positive and inflation is within tolerance limits

Also in its statement, the Fed confirmed its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent “for an extended period” and to end its $1.25 trillion commitment to the mortgage market by March 31, 2010. Fed insiders estimate that the bond-buying program lowered mortgage rates by 1 percent since its start.

Mortgage market reaction to the Fed press release is, in general, ambivalent. Mortgage rates in Scottsdale are unchanged this afternoon.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a 2-day affair, April 27-28, 2010.