Releases Mortgage Rates Update - How Manufacturing, Consumers and the Fed are Affecting Interest Rates

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This week's mortgage rate report shows that interest rates are back down to record lows after trended upwards last week. The weekly mortgage report explains the current rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage, what's impacting interest rates and what's likely to affect mortgage rates in the days and weeks to come.

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The limited information available for 2012 is consistent with growth proceeding, in coming quarters, at a pace close to or somewhat above the pace that was registered during the second half of last year.

Home buyers and refinancers got good news this week. The latest mortgage rate report shows that interest rates fell to record lows again after a slight increase the week before. This change came despite a barrage of reports on home sales last week that was a mixed bag of positive and negative news.

Current mortgage interest rates are:

         4.10% - average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage
         3.35% - average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage

The home sales reports from last week were cautiously encouraging with existing home sales up and inventory down, while at the same time new home sales dropped slightly in January along with home prices. Paired with the news that consumer sentiment is up higher than expected and jobless claims are suppressed, things seem to be looking up for the housing market in the first month of 2012.

This week economic news is all about manufacturing, the Fed and consumer confidence. The reports for this week include:

  •     Monday - Durable Goods Orders for January
  •     Tuesday - Consumer Confidence Index
  •     Wednesday - Fed's Beige Book released
  •     Thursday - Fed Semi-Annual Report on the State of the U.S. Economy
  •     Thursday - Personal Income and Outlays Data for January
  •     Thursday - Institute for Supply Management latest report

The above reports signal another good week for the U.S. economy that is slowly but surely seeming to be headed in the right direction.

After 3 months of increases the Durable Goods Orders for long lasting goods fell 4% in January. This is a much bigger drip than the 1.1% analysts were expecting. However, the silver lining is the .5% rise in unfilled orders which point to future demand. Despite the decrease in orders the Institute for Supply Management report indicated in the that manufacturing was improving overall. The PMI reported was 52.4%. Anything over 50% indicates growth.

As far as the consumers that drive two thirds of the U.S. economy are concerned things are definitely looking up. Consumer confidence in February was rated at 70.8, a significant increase from the 61.5 reported in January. Economist were expecting a much more modest increase of just 64.4. Consumers are more confident about the economy but are they able to spend? The Personal Income and Outlays Data for January showed modest improvement with personal income increasing by .3% and disposable personal income increasing .1%. is forecasting that mortgage rates will rise above the record lows next week, but the movement isn't likely to be more than 5 basis points. The higher than expected rise in consumer confidence and PMI reported in the Institute for Supply Management report will likely push mortgage rates higher, while the larger than expected drop in Durable Goods Orders is likely to limit it.

The U.S. economy is showing signs of growth and improvement but as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cautioned in his testimony for the Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report, "the recovery of the U.S. economy continues, but the pace of expansion has been uneven and modest by historical standards." However, he continued on stating that, "the limited information available for 2012 is consistent with growth proceeding, in coming quarters, at a pace close to or somewhat above the pace that was registered during the second half of last year."

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