23 Mar Mortgage rates edge up even as trade war worries loom ahead
Rates for home loans ticked up as global trade concerns countered investors’ belief that the Federal Reserve was likely to raise short-term interest rates.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45% during the week ending March 22, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, out Thursday. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.91%, and the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.68%. All three products rose one basis point during the week.
Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.
Mortgage rates follow the path of the benchmark 10-year U.S. TreasuryTMUBMUSD10Y, +0.16% , though with a lag. Bond yields were on the rise as markets girded for a Federal Reserve rate increase this week, along with the possibility of more hawkish language on the pace of future interest rate rises.
But that pattern reversed as the Trump administration has moved closer to measures that many analysts believe could spark a race-to-the-bottom trade war. Over the past few days, investors have started to snatch up bonds as a safe haven asset.
Bond yields decline as prices rise.
Meanwhile, momentum in the housing market remains choppy. Sales of previously-owned homes tumbled in January but rebounded in February, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
And February’s price gains were the highest since last summer as supply remains lean and demand hot. That’s making it hard for anyone but the most qualified buyers to get a foothold in the market. First-time buyers made 29% of all purchases in February, NAR said, well below their long-time average of about 40%.