Rates Benefit From Uncertainty: The Weekly Market Update

Half-Way There
Half-Way There

Half-Way There

We are approaching the half-way point of 2017. We can make an observation that it has been a very strange year. And we are not just talking about the political turmoil. For example, despite the fact that the Federal Reserve Board has raised short-term interest rates for the third consecutive quarter, we still do not have a fix on how strong the economy is right now. In their statement accompanying the increase two weeks ago, the Fed expressed optimism that the economy was getting stronger. Yet, every economic report released that week was disappointing, including readings on retail sales and industrial production.

Even though just about everyone was expecting rates on home loans to rise significantly this year, this uncertainty is one reason that mortgage rates are lower than the analysts expected. One would hope that the upcoming June jobs report would lend some certainty to the equation, but thus far this year, we have even seen ambiguity within the employment sector. The unemployment rate is dropping, but the pace of jobs added has not accelerated from last year.

Despite this uncertainty, the stock market has remained strong this year as the post-election rally has continued. Does this mean that the markets are optimistic that it is only a matter of time before the economy shows signs that it is picking up? Or is this rally merely a reaction to improved corporate profits? We feel that the picture will become clearer over the next several weeks, as we see additional jobs reports and a reading on the growth of the economy for the second quarter. For now, the lower long-term rates should be helping the economy in conjunction with higher stock prices.

The Weekly Market Update

Rates were stable last week, again remaining near their lowest levels of the year. For the week ending June 22, Freddie Mac announced that 30-year fixed rates fell one tick to 3.90% from 3.91% the week before. The average for 15-year loans also fell slightly to 3.17%, and the average for five-year adjustables moved down one tick to 3.14%. A year ago, 30-year fixed rates averaged 3.56%.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac -- "Following last week's sharp decline, the 10-year Treasury yield rose 3 basis points this week. The rate on 30-year fixed loans remained relatively flat, falling 1 basis point to 3.90 percent. Rates on home loans are continuing to hold at year-to-date lows amidst ongoing economic uncertainty."

Note: Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.