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The Impact Of Falling Oil Prices On Mortgage Rates

2008
05.30

Falling oil prices is one reason why mortgage rates are dropping for the first time in 6 days.

Oil is off $9 per barrel from last week, a shift that correlates to $0.23 per gallon of unleaded gas, roughly.

This drop is good news for both home buyers and “rate shoppers” — high gas prices is partly to blame for rising mortgage rates this week.

The connection between oil prices and mortgage rates is not necessarily clear, but it goes like this:

  • High oil prices are linked to inflation
  • Inflation devalues the U.S. dollar
  • Mortgage bond repayments are made in U.S. dollars

Therefore, inflation devalues the payments made on mortgage bonds and investors typically avoid products with decreasing returns.

So, as demand for mortgage bonds fall, prices fall, too. This is basic Supply and Demand and many people “get” how that relationship works. But what is not so well known is that when the price of a bond falls, its corresponding interest rate goes up.

The reverse is true, too, and that’s what we’re seeing today. Because oil prices are falling, it’s reducing one of the many inflationary pressures on the economy and mortgage bonds are suddenly more attractive to investors.

Higher demand means higher prices and lower yields. Mortgages rates are benefiting from the action this morning — they’re down about 0.125 percent across the board.

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