Weak Employment data and increased expectations for Fed monetary easing were favorable for Austin mortgage rates this week. Investors have priced in a high likelihood of additional Treasury security purchases by the Fed, which would increase demand for mortgage-backed securities (MBS). As a result, Austin mortgage rates declined to a new record low.
While the private sector performed relatively well, Friday’s Employment data revealed net job losses and stagnant wage growth in September. Against a consensus forecast for a loss of 5K jobs, the economy lost 95K jobs. The weakness was seen mostly in the government sector, as state and local governments continued to shed jobs. The private sector actually added 64K, which was close to expectations. The Unemployment Rate remained at 9.6%. A broader measure, which also includes the underemployed, rose from 16.7% in August to 17.1%, matching the high reached in April. Average Hourly Earnings, a proxy for wage growth, was unchanged from August.
The Fed’s recent announcement that it may purchase additional Treasury securities (quantitative easing) to stimulate the economy has magnified the importance of economic news and increased daily volatility. Investors now evaluate each fresh piece of data in terms of its expected impact on Fed policy, and mortgage rates receive an extra benefit from weaker than expected data. In general, weaker economic growth leads to lower future inflation, which is favorable for mortgage rates. In addition, investors now expect higher levels of bond purchases by the Fed after weak data, and the increased demand also would be positive for mortgage rates. Of course, stronger than expected economic news will have the opposite effect and will push rates higher more quickly than usual.