Mortgage Rates Don’t Always Follow Lower Fed Funds Rates

The Fed Funds Rate is 1.000 percent prior to the December 16 FOMC meetingThe Federal Open Market Committee adjourns from its 2-day meeting at 2:15 P.M. ET today.

It’s widely expected that the Ben Bernanke-led FOMC will reduce the Fed Funds Rate by a half-percent to 0.500 percent.

Fed Funds Rate cuts are meant to stimulate the economy by lowering borrowing costs for businesses and consumers; interest rates on business credit lines and consumer credit cards are directly tied to the benchmark rate.

However, it won’t be what the Fed does today that will be as important as what the Fed says. And the markets are listening closely.

See, this FOMC meeting was originally scheduled to last 1 day but on November 20, it was extended to 2. Presumably, the extra day was meant to give the FOMC a chance to review its options, but now it has the markets expecting “something big”.

Wall Street wants Bernanke to outline credit-extenstion plan for banks, businesses and consumers. It wants the Fed to bolster markets to prevent the recession from become a depression. It wants action. Anything short of an explicit plan should push traders into ultra-safe U.S. Treasury bonds and that should lead mortgage rates higher.

If you are floating a mortgage rate today, it may make sense to lock prior to the Federal Open Market Committee’s press release. Expect volatility beginning around 2:00 P.M. ET today.

(Image courtesy: The Wall Street Journal)