Mortgage rates continued to move higher in anticipation of a Federal Reserve rate hike next month, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.
Home loan rates began creeping up after the Federal Reserve signaled earlier this month that a December interest rate hike was a possibility. What the Fed does with interest rates doesn’t have a direct relationship to mortgage rates, since they are more closely tied to long-term U.S. Treasury yields. Bonds are more likely to move ahead of a Fed action than in response to it.
With the release of last week’s stronger-than-expected jobs report, the possibility that the Fed will raise rates became greater and home loan rates experienced an upturn.
The 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.98 percent with an average 0.6 point, creeping ever closer to the 4 percent mark. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.87 percent a week ago and 4.01 percent a year ago. Since falling to a six-month low of 3.76 percent in late October, the 30-year fixed rate has gained 22 basis points in two weeks. (A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.)
The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.2 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.09 percent a week ago and 3.2 percent a year ago.
Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also rose. The five-year ARM average grew to 3.03 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.96 percent a week ago and 3.02 percent a year ago.
The one-year ARM average increased to 2.65 percent with an average 0.2 point. It was 2.62 percent a week ago.
“A surprisingly strong October jobs report showed 271,000 jobs added and wage growth of 0.4 percent from last month, exceeding many experts’ expectations,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.
“The positive employment reports pushed Treasury yields to about 2.3 percent as investors responded by placing a higher likelihood on a December rate hike. Mortgage rates followed with the 30-year jumping 11 basis points to 3.98 percent, the highest since July. There is only one more employment report before the December FOMC meeting, which will have major implications on whether we see a rate hike in 2015.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat again this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume – slipped 1.3 percent from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 2 percent, while the purchase index increased 0.1 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 59.8 percent of all applications.