Mortgage Rates Shrug Off Prospect of Fed Taper

Freddie Mac released its weekly update on national mortgage rates Thursday morning, showing there's been almost no reaction to last week's announcement that the Fed will begin tapering its bond-buying program.

Rates for both 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) rose only a single basis point each in the week following the Fed's announcement that it will pare back monthly bond purchases by $10 billion. Thirty-year FRMs now stand at 4.48%; 15-year FRMs at 3.52%. A year ago they were at 3.35% and 2.65%, respectively.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) reacted differently in the most recent week. Longer-term 5/1 ARMs gained four basis points, rising to precisely 3.00%. Shorter one-year ARMs declined a single b.p. to 2.56%. A year ago, five-year ARMs averaged 2.70% while the 1-year ARM averaged 2.56%.

In the final reporting period of 2013, Freddie Mac Vice President and Chief Economist Frank Nothaft characterized the economic news preceding the most recent rate report as "mixed," with real GDP being revised upward to 4.1% in Q3, but home sales slowing slightly. Existing homes are currently selling at an annualized rate of 4.9 million, while new homes are moving at the rate of about 464,000 per year.

This mix of good news canceling out bad news may help explain why interest rates have not moved much. It does not explain why the prospect of higher interest rates emanating from the Fed isn't pushing up mortgage rates much at all this week.

Mortgage rates peaked this year at 4.6% in August on expectations that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases. Those purchases push mortgage and other long-term rates lower and encourage borrowing and spending.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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