Friday, May 23, 2008

Higher long-term interest rates:

I don't know if you've been shopping for a mortgage recently, or if you've been following the price action in long-term bonds. If you have been, you've probably noticed something: Long-term rates haven't been falling along with the Fed cuts. They've been rising. And naturally, since bond prices move in the opposite direction of interest rates, bond prices have generally been declining.

U.S. long bond futures topped out at around 121 earlier this year. They're going for 116 and change now. Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates bottomed out at 5.48% in mid-January, according to Freddie Mac. They were recently up to 6.01%.

And what about all those Fed rate cuts? Have they helped? Well, a 30-year fixed loan went for 6.38% in September when the Fed started slashing the funds rates willy-nilly. So that means 325 basis points of Fed cuts have bought you essentially 37 basis points in long-term, fixed rate mortgage relief.

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