South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : December 12, 2011

Posted in mortgage rates by southorangecounty on December 12, 2011

Federal Reserve meets this weekMortgage markets were mostly unchanged for the 6th consecutive week last week as Wall Street’s uncertainty regarding the future of U.S. and global economies remain.

Mortgage bonds made gains made through the early part of the week, which caused mortgage rates in California to drop Monday through Wednesday afternoon. Those gains were erased, however, as 23 of 27 Euro leaders reached agreement on fiscal coordination and budget planning, sparking optimism for the future of the Eurozone, in general.

Mortgage rates rose Thursday and Friday.

This week, the momentum may continue. The main story we’ll be watching is the Federal Open Market Committee’s Tuesday meeting — its 8th scheduled meeting of the year and its last until 2012. 

When the Fed meets, mortgage rates are often volatile.

At its meeting, the FOMC is expected to vote the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current range near zero percent. However, it won’t be the Fed’s vote on the Fed Funds Rate that changes markets. Wall Street is keyed in to two other elements, instead.

The first element is the verbiage of the FOMC’s press release to markets. Issued upon adjournment, the FOMC’s press release identifies strengths and weaknesses in the U.S. economy, and offers an outlook for the future plus potential threats. The “tone” of the press release can change how mortgage bonds trade.

If the Fed describes an economy in recovery with few threat to growth, mortgage rates are likely to rise post-FOMC. By contrast, if the Fed says the economy has slowed, mortgage rates should fall.

The second element on which Wall Street is focused is the likelihood of new, Fed-led economic stimulus. Should the Federal Reserve modify existing support programs, or introduce new ones, mortgage rates are sure to shift. Unfortunately, we can’t know in which direction — it will depend on the size of the program and its expected impact on the U.S. economy.

The Fed adjourns Tuesday at 2:15 PM ET.

Beyond the Fed, there is other rate-moving news, too, including Tuesday’s Retail Sales report, Thursday’s Producer Price Index, and Friday’s Consumer Price Index. Each has the capacity to change mortgage rates throughout Coto de Caza so if you’re floating a mortgage rate, it may be a good time to lock one in. 

Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.99% with 0.7 discount points, plus closing costs.

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