“Don’t touch that dial.” That familiar broadcasting statement certainly applies to the markets these days, as some upcoming news could lead to big decisions. Read on for details.
There was news on the housing front as New Home Sales surged by 8.3 percent in June to 497,000. New Home Sales are up a whopping 38 percent since June of 2012, the largest annual increase since 1992. It’s important to note that New Home Sales in May were revised lower to 459,000 from 476,000, while Existing Home Sales came in weaker than expected, down 1.2 percent from May to June.
In other economic news, Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 7,000 in the latest week to 343,000, above expectations. Meanwhile, Durable Goods Orders, which are orders for items that last for an extended period of time, had an upside surprise, surging by 4.2 percent in June, well above expectations. And consumers are still feeling positive, as Consumer Sentiment came in at 85.1, higher than expected.
What does all of this mean for home loan rates? It’s important to remember two things. First, home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, meaning that as Bonds improve, home loan rates improve. Second, the Fed has been purchasing Bonds and Treasuries at the rate of $85 billion a month since late last year, via their Quantitative Easing (QE) program. But as the housing and labor markets have begun to improve, there has been talk that the Fed should taper its purchases soon. The uncertainty surrounding this decision has caused volatility in the markets.
Some of this uncertainty may come to an end this week. The Fed’s next two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee begins Tuesday, with the monetary policy statement set to be released Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET. The statement will be closely watched around the globe for any signs that the Fed will begin tapering its Bond purchases–or if the members feel that tapering should be put off until 2014. If inflation starts to rise and economic reports continue to be strong, the Fed could consider tapering its Bond purchases sooner rather than later. Whether this will cause Bonds to worsen, leading to higher home loan rates–and how much higher–remains to be seen.
The bottom line is that home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical levels and now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.