Mortgage Rates Remain Elevated, But Bigger Volatility is Coming
There’s probably not going to be any way around it. However volatile rates may have been in the past 2 weeks, they’re at risk of much larger swings in the 2 weeks ahead.
I’m intentionally avoiding commenting on the first few weeks of February because it’s not a given that the upcoming movement will be any bigger than that. From February 2nd through the 15th, the average 30yr fixed rate increased by a whopping 0.75%. Since then, we’ve drifted up and over 7% as the market waits on several highly consequential economic reports.
That brings us to the rationale behind calls for higher volatility. The big jobs report coming up on Friday and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on deck next week are the two most relevant economic reports month in and month out right now. This week’s comments from Fed Chair Powell reiterate the possibility that the Fed could increase the pace of its rate hikes if the data comes in hot enough.
As always, financial markets will adjust for that possibility immediately following the release of the data. In other words, traders won’t wait for the Fed to actually hike by a larger amount before selling bonds. When traders sell bonds, rates rise, all other things being equal. That means mortgage rates would quickly move to even higher levels if Friday’s jobs report is much stronger than expected.
Conversely, if the report is weaker, rates would likely recover by a larger amount than any of their recent winning days. The movement seen so far this week is more of a placeholder by contrast. Today happened to be bad, with the average lender drifting slightly higher into the low 7% range for top tier 30yr fixed scenarios.