Mortgage markets hit their worst levels since March last week, sending mortgage rates higher for the second week in a row.
Today’s conforming mortgage rates are much higher than from the registered low point of April 30, 2009.
There are a few reasons why mortgage rates were up last week.
- Stress test results weren’t as bad as originally feared
- The pace of job loss appears to be slowing
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained another 4 percent
Separately, bullet points like these can move markets and change rates. Together, though, they’re a force.
The combination of events reinforces Wall Street’s belief that the U.S. economy is on the mend. Even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke remarked in his testimony to Congress that the economy should “turn up later this year”.
As a result, this week, markets will be tuned in to inflation-related data.
Oil prices have been rising steadily since January and are up roughly 30 percent year-to-date. Because of this, Thursday and Friday’s Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index, respectively, will be closely watched. Both are a sort of “Cost of Living” measurement and are, therefore, susceptible to spiraling energy costs.
If either reading comes in higher-than-expected, look for inflation fears to ignite on Wall Street and mortgage rates to rise.
Similarly, if Friday’s Consumer Sentiment Index reveals a more confident American consumer, mortgage rates are likely to rise in that scenario, too. This is because a confident consumer tends to spend more, thereby hastening the recession’s end.
And, lastly, it’s worth noting that six members of the Federal Reserve will be delivering prepared speeches this week, including Chairman Bernanke. When Fed officials speak, the markets can move quickly.
If you’re still shopping for a mortgage rate, consider locking one in soon. Rates have been trending higher and there’s little reason for them to fall.