After improving again yesterday, mortgage rates have been generally flat or slightly worse today. What we’re seeing could be attributed to profit-taking by mortgage-backed securities traders or just random noise, as today’s economic data was mixed, and there has been seemingly no progress in the fiscal cliff negotiations. I still maintain my position that mortgage rates will stay in their current range through at least the end of the year due to the uncertainty presented by the fiscal cliff.
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Yet again, today’s economic data was mixed. ADP’s private employment report showed a gain of 118k jobs from October to November, which is somewhat worse than the consensus expectation of +125k. The report estimates that Hurricane Sandy reduced this number by 86k jobs. Like a lot of the data we’ve seen recently, it’s hard to make heads or tails of this number due to the Hurricane skew. If nothing else, we should be prepared for an underwhelming jobs report on Friday, possibly followed by a big-bounce back the next month. It’s worth noting that ADP revised their reporting method a few months ago in order to make their data fall more in line with the BLS’ data. We shall see if it makes a difference over time.
The Institute for Supply Management released it’s Non-Manufacturing Index this morning. The report seeks to gauge general business conditions for non-manufacturing businesses. The index rose to 54.7% in November, up from 54.2% in October (numbers above 50 indicate growth while numbers below 50 indicate contraction). This is better than the consensus expectation of 53.6. This growth is not prompting businesses to hire, however, which puts somewhat of a pall on the headline number. Non-manufacturing employment was stagnant for the month. The mixed nature of today’s economic data makes the impact on mortgage rates relatively neutral.
I’m going to forgo talking about the fiscal cliff/debt ceiling negotiations as well as the situation in Europe because not much has changed from yesterday, and I think we’re all tired of hearing about these topics. Despite this, both still loom large in any discussion of mortgage rates moving forward.
Despite my belief that near-record low mortgage rates will persist for at least a while longer, I would still recommend that anyone seriously considering getting a new mortgage do so sooner rather than later. I feel that we are approaching the lower bound for mortgage rates, and that consumers need to be prepared for somewhat higher rates, maybe in the second half of 2013 as the headwinds presented by the budget negotiations and Europe subside somewhat.
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