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Looking Back And Looking Ahead : June 2, 2008

2008
06.02

Mortgage rates rocketed higher last week, stunning active home buyers and mortgage rate shoppers.

Some conforming mortgage rates rose by as much as three-quarters of a percent before Friday’s closing.

Even in a year in which mortgage rates have been extremely volatile, last week’s spike was a large one.

The main driver of last week’s increase was additional evidence that the U.S. economy was never in a recession at all; only that it was “weak”.

From last week:

  1. New Homes Sales (including cancellations) reported strong
  2. Durable Goods showed surprising strength
  3. The Chicago “Business Barometer” showed confidence

All three data points run opposite to what market players believed just six weeks ago and the reversal in mortgage rates is, in part, related to those traders selling out of bonds and moving into something else.

Another part of the shift is weak demand foreign for U.S. treasuries. Lackluster support from buyers drove down prices last week and helped push up yields.

It all adds up to mean that this is a dangerous time to float a mortgage rate and this week shouldn’t be safer than last. Friday is Jobs Reports Day and that always swings a big stick in the mortgage markets.

Until Friday, though, mortgage rates are expected to exhibit the same volatility that they have all year — some days up, some days down and most days by a lot.

Falling oil prices may create some downward pressure this week, but the overall momentum is higher.

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