Mortgage Rates for the week of: November 21, 2011

Mortgage markets went unchanged last week as Wall Street traded on new debt stress within the Eurozone, and stronger-than-expected economic data here at home.

Rates moved very little from Monday to Friday and the storyline’s not expected to change much this week for today’s rate shoppers.

According to Freddie Mac, conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgages remain priced at 4.000% with 0.7 discount points on average, where 1 discount point equals one percent of the loan size. For people who prefer “zero-point” mortgages, expect a mortgage rate above 4.000%.

By contrast, loans with 1 point or more are priced below 4.000 percent.

However, in this holiday-shortened trading week, mortgage volatility should be up, and rates may finally break from the 4.000 benchmark we’ve hovered since November 1.

What’s unclear is whether rates will rise or fall.

For 8 months, we’ve talked of how events in Greece have influenced the U.S. mortgage market and, how each time Greece moved to the precipice of default, the U.S. mortgage bond market improved, causing mortgage rates to fall.

Last week, similar default concerns emerged for Italy and Spain. This applied downward pressure on U.S. mortgage rates, but a strong retail sales report; a better-than-expected New Home Sales data; and soaring homebuilder confidence renewed talk of domestic inflation in 2012 and beyond.

Inflation erodes the value of the U.S. dollar and leads to higher mortgage rates.

This week, we get a full set of data :

  • Monday : Existing Home Sales
  • Tuesday : FOMC Minutes; GDP; 5-Year Treasury Auction
  • Wednesday : Jobless Claims; Personal Income and Outlays; Consumer Sentiment

In addition, Wednesday marks the deadline for the congressional “super-committee” tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings over the next 10 years. The committee was formed in the wake of August’s downgrade of U.S. federal debt by Standard & Poors.

If Congress fails to meet its goal in time, stock markets should suffer and mortgage rates may fall.

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