Mortgage rates ease for 3rd day in a row on soft April jobs report

Rates have been in retreat as bond market investors who fund most mortgage loans react to the latest economic news and scaleback in tightening by Fed policymakers.

At Inman Connect Las Vegas, July 30-Aug. 1, 2024, the noise and misinformation will be banished, all your big questions will be answered, and new business opportunities will be revealed. Join us.

Mortgage rates retreated for the third day in a row Friday as the latest numbers from the Labor Department showed employers added fewer jobs than expected in April, pushing unemployment closer to 4 percent, a level not seen in more than two years.

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in April, down from 315,000 in March and the most anemic growth since October 2023. Economists had expected April employment growth of 240,000 jobs.

The report came on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement by Federal Reserve policymakers that they intend to slow the pace of “quantitative tightening” — an unwinding of the central bank’s $7 trillion balance sheet — to $40 billion a month, less than half the pace envisioned two years ago.

Job growth cooled in April

Change in employment, by month. Red bars are the latest forecast, including revisions to previous estimates for February and March. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This report is nothing like bad enough to trigger a wholesale rethink at the Fed, but things will be different if the July numbers are weaker still, as we expect,” economists at Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note to clients. “The downshift in payroll growth has come exactly when the [National Federation of Independent Business] suggested it would, and the signal for the future is unambiguous.”

Futures markets tracked by the CME FedWatch Tool last week predicted that the odds were against the Fed making more than one 25-basis point rate cut this year. On Friday, investors had repositioned their bets in line with expectations that there’s a 61 percent chance of two or more Fed rate cuts by the end of the year, with the first move now expected in September rather than December.

Pantheon economists are sticking to their forecast that the central bank will bring the federal funds rate down by a full percentage point, starting in September.

“Businesses — especially small firms — are responding to the lagged effect of the huge increase in interest rates and the tightening in lending standards, which have made working capital much more expensive and harder to obtain,” Pantheon economists said. “At the margin, this is depressing hiring and lowering the bar to layoffs.”

Unemployment, which dipped below 4 percent in February 2022, is once again flirting with that level, hitting 3.9 percent in April, up half a percentage point from a year ago.

The Fed doesn’t have direct control over long-term rates, but bond market investors who fund most mortgage loans are reacting to this week’s news.

10-year Treasury yields down 25 basis points

5.3.24 10 year yield

Yields on 10-year Treasurys, which often predict trends in mortgage rates, fell 7 basis points Friday to 4.50 percent, a 25-basis point drop from the 2024 high of 4.75 percent registered on April 25.

Surveys of lenders by Mortgage News Daily showed rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans dropping for a third day in a row Friday, to 7.28 percent, down 24 basis points from a 2024 high of 7.52 percent, also registered on April 25.

Mortgage rates retreat from 2024 highs

Data tracked by Optimal Blue, which lags by one day, showed borrowers were locking in rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages Thursday at an average rate of 7.21 percent, down 6 basis points from the 2024 high of 7.27 percent recorded on April 25.

Borrowers taking out jumbo loans have seen spreads over conventional mortgages widen as higher interest rates and defaults on commercial loans weigh on regional banks that are often the source of those loans.

The rates published by Mortgage News Daily (MND) are higher than those reported by Optimal Blue because MND’s rate index is adjusted to account for points that borrowers often pay to get a lower rate. Optimal Blue uses actual rates provided to borrowers for rate locks, whether they paid points or not.

Get Inman’s Mortgage Brief Newsletter delivered right to your inbox. A weekly roundup of all the biggest news in the world of mortgages and closings delivered every Wednesday. Click here to subscribe.

Email Matt Carter

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top