Mortgage rates rise as bond investors shift to riskier assets

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Mortgage rates rose modestly this week as investors have a more positive view of the economy and so they are moving money out of the bond market, according to Freddie Mac.

30-Year FRM 15-Year FRM 5/1-Year ARM
Average Rates 3.75% 3.20% 3.44%
Fees & Points 0.6 0.5 0.4
Margin N/A N/A 2.75

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.75% for the week ending Nov. 14, up from last week when it averaged 3.69%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.94%.

"The modest uptick in mortgage rates over the last two months reflects declining recession fears and a more sanguine outlook for the global economy," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in a press release.

"Due to the improved economic outlook, purchase mortgage applications rose 15% over the same week a year ago, the second highest weekly increase in the last two years. Given the important role residential real estate plays in the economy, the steady improvement of the housing market is a reassuring sign that the economy is on solid ground heading into next year."

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.2%, up from last week when it averaged 3.13%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.36%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.44% with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.39%. A year ago at this time, the five-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.14%.

"Rates remain historically low, but it appears that they are in the midst of a rebound after months of strong downward momentum," said Zillow economist Matthew Speakman when that rate tracker was released.

"Bond yields have been steadily rising over the last month and a half, as a combination of improving economic conditions and easing trade tensions have encouraged investors to resume their pursuit of riskier assets. Trade talks between the U.S. and China have been warming, and reports that they had agreed to cancel some tariffs drove bond yields, and thus mortgage rates, higher. Those agreements were later walked back, but yields retreated only slightly as investors remained hopeful that the talks were progressing, albeit somewhat erratically."

But there is a potential for mortgage rates to change direction again very soon, he continued.

"Looking ahead, Friday brings the latest test of these improving economic conditions in the form of October's retail sales data release. A repeat of last month's disappointing release might be enough to break rates' recent upward momentum," Speakman said.

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