Mortgage Rates Unchanged, Even As the Market Warms to the Possibility of a March Rate Hike


The average 30-year mortgage rate rose by 1 basis point to 3.99% on Wednesday, which equates to a $476.84 monthly payment per $100,000 borrowed. (A basis point equals one hundredth of a percentage point). A month ago, the equivalent payment was higher by $2.31.

The average 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 3.15%, equating to a $697.82 monthly payment per $100,000 borrowed. A month ago, the equivalent payment was higher by $1.45.

Rate (National Average)

Today

1 Month Ago

30-year fixed jumbo

4.24%

4.41%

30-year fixed

3.99%

4.03%

15-year fixed

3.15%

3.18%

30-year fixed refi

4.01%

4.07%

15-year fixed refi

3.20%

3.19%

5/1 ARM

3.13%

3.29%

5/1 ARM refi

3.24%

3.50%

5/1 ARM: ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE WITH AN INITIAL FIXED five-YEAR INTEREST RATE. DATA SOURCE: BLOOMBERG. RATES MAY INCLUDE POINTS.

Businessman contemplating a highway labeled "interest rates" that rises on the horizon.

Image source: Getty Images.

Mortgage rates little changed, even as the market warms to the possibility of a March rate hike

In a note published on Tuesday, Morgan Stanley predicted that the Federal Reserve would next raise interest rates in September, but that note now looks like a dove lost among the market's cast of hawks following Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.

Indeed, the probability of a March rate hike was reflected in federal funds futures prices, which rose to 44% today, from 34% yesterday. Presumably, that increase is the product of off-the-cuff comments from Yellen in response to senators' questions, as the same prepared remarks were submitted to the House's Committee on Financial Services yesterday. These are the key passages regarding interest rates (italics denote my emphasis):

As I noted on previous occasions, waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise, potentially requiring the [Federal Open Market Committee] to eventually raise rates rapidly, which could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession.

This is a general statement, but it suggests that policymakers are mindful that the balance of risks has shifted such that the risk of waiting too long to raise now supersedes the risk of acting precipitously and choking off the recovery.

Incoming data suggest that labor market conditions continue to strengthen and inflation is moving up to 2 percent, consistent with the Committee's expectations. At our upcoming meetings, the Committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with these expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate.

In other words, based on the current expected trajectory for the economy, a rate rise would be appropriate at "upcoming meetings":

The committee's view that gradual increases in the federal funds rate will likely be appropriate reflects the expectation that the neutral federal funds rate -- that is, the interest rate that is neither expansionary nor contractionary and that keeps the economy operating on an even keel -- will rise somewhat over time .

Translation: As the economy continues to shake off the post-crisis doldrums, the level that is desirable for the federal funds rate will continue to rise.

10 stocks we like better than Wal-Mart
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks  for investors to buy right now... and Wal-Mart wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here  to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as ofDecember 12 , 2016
The author(s) may have a position in any stocks mentioned.

Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Stocks


More from Motley Fool

Subscribe






Motley Fool
Contributor:

Motley Fool

Market News, Investing
Follow on:

Find a Credit Card

Select a credit card product by:
Select an offer:
Search
Data Provided by BankRate.com