The chance for additional Treasury purchases by the Fed helped Austin mortgage rates improve early this week. Stronger than expected economic growth data trimmed the gains later in the week. The net result was that Austin mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.
As expected, the Fed made no change in the fed funds rate at Tuesday’s meeting. Its statement was very similar to the last one, but investors focused on one important difference. Fed officials stated that they are “prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery.” Investors interpreted this to mean that additional bond purchases by the Fed could take place in coming months. While the Fed is expected to purchase Treasury securities rather than mortgage-backed securities (MBS), increased demand for Treasuries would be favorable for Austin mortgage rates. As usual, investors immediately priced in this information, and Austin mortgage rates improved. Of course, if this action by the Fed never becomes necessary, then Austin mortgage rates could give back this week’s gains.
The housing data released during the week generally matched expectations. While there are differences in regional performance, overall the housing market is holding steady above the lows reached during the recent financial crisis or improving modestly. August Existing Home Sales rose 8% from July. Inventories of unsold existing homes declined 1% to an 11.6-month supply. August New Home Sales were unchanged from July. August Housing Starts rose 11%, and Building Permits, a leading indicator, rose 2%. The September NAHB home builder confidence index was unchanged from August.