Continued Improvement For Today's Mortgage Rates 3-15-2018

By James Brooks

The bond market is up 4/32 (2.80%), which with a little strength late yesterday should improve Raleigh area rates by .125 of a discount point.

Last week?s unemployment figures were posted at 8:30 AM ET this morning, revealing 226,000 new claims for benefits. This was a decline from the previous week?s revised 230,000 new filings, but pegged expectations. Because of the lack of variance from forecasts and the fact that this is only a weekly snapshot, mortgage rates have had no reaction to the news.

The week closes tomorrow with three pieces of economic data that have the potential to slightly influence mortgage pricing. February's Housing Starts data will start the day at 8:30 AM ET. This report tracks construction starts of new housing and doesn't usually cause much movement in mortgage rates. It is considered one of the least important reports we see each month but is expected to show a decline in new starts, indicating softness in the housing sector. Good news for the bond market and mortgage rates would be a sizable decline in new starts. However, unless we see a large variance from forecasts the data likely will not lead to a noticeable move in mortgage pricing.

Next up is February's Industrial Production report at 9:15 AM ET. This report measures manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is expected to show a 0.3% rise from January's level. A large decline would be considered favorable news for bonds and mortgage rates because it would indicate manufacturing sector weakness. Broader economic growth would be more difficult if manufacturing activity is slipping.

The final release of the week is the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment for March at 10:00 AM ET. This index gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are more confident in their own financial and employment situations, then they are more apt to make large purchases in the near future. This helps fuel consumer spending levels and economic growth. A drop in confidence will probably hurt the stock markets and boost bond prices, leading to lower mortgage rates. Bad news for bonds and mortgage rates would be rapidly rising confidence. It is expected to show a reading of 90.0, down from February's final reading of 99.7.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now.

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