Rates go up, rates go down. Catch them while you can.
After Wednesday’s mortgage market rally drove rates down by a bunch, Thursday’s sell-off pushed them right back up.
This has been a common pattern in the skittish world of mortgage rates this year.
With the U.S. economy still teetering between recession and growth, markets are looking for signals anywhere it can find them. Thursday’s clue came from a government report showing that more Americans are collecting unemployment benefits than at any point in history.
Strangely, mortgage rates rose on the news.
I call it “strange” because weak economic data has tended to draw mortgage rates lower lately to the benefit of prospective home buyers and would-be refinancers. Lower rates make homes more affordable.
Thursday, though, the pattern broke.
The main reason why mortgage rates rose Thursday isn’t because of the employment report or any other piece of data. Rates rose Thursday for the same reason that they had dropped the day prior — the Federal Reserve.
On Wednesday, the released minutes from the Fed’s last meeting suggested that the group might make a larger mortgage market intervention. On Thursday, in the face of worsening jobs data, markets bet the Fed wouldn’t.
Mortgage rate shoppers, unfortunately, got caught in the crosshairs.
Rates can — and do — change quickly, without warning. And, thus far this year, the changes have been extra sudden. This is one reason why it’s often prudent to lock a mortgage rate as soon as you find one that’s agreeable. Wait too long, and it could be gone.
Expect more volatility today with traders leaving early for Memorial Day Weekend. Less volume means more chances for rates to change.