US Mortgage Rates Rise, with War in Ukraine Driving Market Volatility

Mortgage rates rose for the first time in 3-weeks.

In the week ending 10th March, 30-year fixed rates increased by 9 basis points to 3.85%. 30-year fixed rates had fallen by 13 basis points in the week prior.

Year-on-year, 30-year fixed rates were up by 80 basis points.

30-year fixed rates were still down by 109 basis points since November 2018’s last peak of 4.94%.

Economic Data from the Week

It was a particularly quiet first half of the week, with economic data from the US limited to trade data and JOLTs job opening figures. While the stats were skewed to the negative, the numbers had a muted impact on yields and the Greenback.

Economic data from the US took a back seat for another week, as news updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine directed US Treasury yields.

Freddie Mac Rates

The weekly average rates for new mortgages, as of 10th March, were quoted by Freddie Mac to be:

According to Freddie Mac,

  • Mortgage rates tracked US Treasury yields higher during the week.

  • Long-term, rates are expected to continue rising alongside inflation.

  • Near-term, uncertainty about the war in Ukraine will likely continue to drive rate volatility.

Mortgage Bankers’ Association Rates

For the week ending 4th March, the rates were:

  • Average interest rates for 30-year fixed with conforming loan balances fell from 4.15% to 4.09%. Points remained unchanged at 0.44 (incl. Origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

  • Average 30-year fixed mortgage rates backed by FHA decreased from 4.15% to 4.12%. Points fell from 0.74 to 0.73 (incl. Origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

  • Average 30-year rates for jumbo loan balances declined from 3.88% to 3.79%. Points fell from 0.40 to 0.39 (incl. Origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.

Weekly figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 8.5% in the week ending 4th March. The index had slipped by 0.7% in the previous week.

The Refinance Index increased by 9% and was 50% lower than the same week a year ago. In the week prior, the Index had risen 1%.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased from 49.9% to 49.5%. In the previous week, the share fell from 50.1% to 49.9%.

According to the MBA,

  • Mortgage rates fell for the first time in 12-weeks, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving investor flight to quality.

  • A fall in 30-year fixed mortgage rates supported a pickup in refinancing activity.

  • Disruptions in oil and other commodity flows could push inflation higher, which will likely lead to a period of volatility in rates.

  • Purchase activity was rose. Home buyers responded to lower rates.

  • The average loan size remained near to record highs.

For the week ahead

It’s a busier first half of the week. US wholesale inflation and retail sales figures will be in focus. While both sets of numbers will influence, the Fed’s monetary policy decision and projections will be the main driver on Wednesday.

Away from the economic calendar, news updates on Russia and Ukraine will also continue to dictate the direction for US Treasuries.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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