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  • Long-term Bond Yields Rise

    October 16, 2016
  • Long-term bond yields again were pressured higher over the past week, resulting in higher mortgage rates. Changing expectations for future monetary policy from the European Central Bank (ECB) were the main reason. U.S. economic data caused little reaction.

    Central bank demand for bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS), has been a key contributor to keeping mortgage rates low. As a result, any change in expectations for future demand has an impact on current MBS prices and, therefore, on mortgage rates. This month, investors have reduced their expectations for the amount of future central bank bond purchases. Comments from the ECB, while extremely vague, caused the shift in investor sentiment. The possible reduction of demand for bonds from the ECB at some undetermined point in the future was enough to trigger a selloff in bonds. ECB officials likely will clarify their plans in future meetings. The next meeting will be held on October 20.

    Employment data — the most important U.S. economic data of the month — was released on Friday, and it closely matched expectations. It caused little movement in mortgage rates. The employment data showed that the number of jobs created in September slowed a little from the prior few months, but that it did not slow enough to reduce expectations for a Fed rate hike this year. In fact, chances for a December rate hike have risen to about two in three, according to futures markets. Historically, Fed officials have been comfortable raising rates when expectations are near current levels.