Mortgage bond prices finished the week near unchanged holding rates steady. New home sales printed at 654K versus the expected 580K. Existing home sales printed at 5.39M versus the expected 5.54M units. According to the FHFA Housing Price Index, housing prices rose at a 5.6% annual rate in the previous 12 months. The monthly gain was 0.2% which was near expectations. Federal Reserve Chair Yellen spoke at the Jackson Hole Symposium. The gathering is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and focuses on important economic issues that face the U.S. and world economies. She provided no clear indication of when the next rate hike may occur. Mortgage interest rates finished the week unchanged.
Rate Hike Back in Focus
Market sentiment regarding a future Fed rate hike has not changed much from the recent approximate 20% chance at the September meeting which takes place on the 16th and 17th. What has changed is the language coming from some Fed officials.
San Francisco Fed President Williams, New York Presidents Dudley, and Atlanta President Lockhart have all noted a possible rate increase in the short term. The most recent minutes from the last Fed meeting stated, “Several (members) expressed concern that an extended period of low interest rates risked intensifying incentives for investors to reach for yield and could lead to the misallocation of capital and mispricing of risk, with possible adverse consequences for financial stability.” Now is a great time to take advantage of historically low mortgage interest rates to avoid future market volatility.