What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates this Week

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) improved last week, helping mortgage rates to drop for30-year fixed rate mortgage rate falls to 3.51% with 0.8 discount points, on average the first time in six weeks.

The FNMA 3.0% coupon and the GNMA 3.0% coupon both climbed, lowering conforming mortgage rates and FHA mortgage rates, respectively.

Jumbo mortgage rates dropped, too, continuing a multi-week winning streak for loans exceeding $625,500.

This week, however, with February’s jobs data due for release and the federal sequester underway, mortgage rates may reverse higher. The market looks ripe for a rate lock.

Freddie Mac Survey : 30-Year Fixed At 3.51%

Conforming mortgage rates dropped last week. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of 125 banks showed the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates easing 0.05 percentage points to 3.51% nationwide for mortgage applicants willing to pay 0.8 discount points plus a full set of closing costs.

Last week’s drop in rates was the first since mid-January. In the six weeks since, rates have climbed 1/8 percent and the required number of discount points has climbed by one-tenth of one percent.

FHA mortgage rates dropped last week, too.

This Week : February Jobs Report

Last week, the Census Bureau and the National Association of REALTORS® released the January New Homes Sales report and Pending Home Sales Index, respectively. Both releases show that the 2012 housing market finished strong, and that the 2013 market is powering ahead.

In addition, home prices were shown to be rising faster than expected nationwide. However, the week’s biggest story will be the Friday release of February’s Non-Farm Payrolls report.

Jobs are paramount to the U.S. economic recovery and more than 4.3 million jobs have been added since October 2010. During that same time frame, the national jobless rate has dropped to 7.9%.

For February, Wall Street is expecting 195,000 net new jobs created and a drop in the Unemployment Rate to 7.6%. Should job growth be positive, it would mark the 29th straight month that the jobs economy has expanded — a statistic closely watched by Wall Street.

Jobs growth begets more job growth which boosts both consumer and business spending. As profits increase, stocks win favor over “safer” investments, including mortgage-backed bonds, causing mortgage rates to rise.

An especially strong February jobs report would likely send rates soaring. A weak result, however, may be ignored. This is one reason why there’s more risk in floating a mortgage rate this week than locking one. If you’re shopping for a home loan, consider locking quickly.

The jobs report hits Friday at 8:30 AM ET.

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