There were no major surprises in the economic data or the Fed announcement this week. As a result, while volatility remained day to day, Austin mortgage rates ended nearly unchanged for the third straight week.
As expected at its meeting on Tuesday, the Fed held the fed funds rate steady, and the accompanying statement contained few changes. The statement retained the language about the fed funds rate remaining at extremely low levels for at least several months. The Fed’s assessment of the economy was a little more upbeat at this meeting, but pointed out that economic improvement will occur slowly. The Fed continued to signal that the $1.25 trillion MBS purchase program will conclude at the end of March. With less than two weeks of Fed MBS purchases remaining, investors will be watching closely to see if the Fed’s exit has an impact on Austin mortgage rates.
This week’s inflation data showed that inflation is not a concern right now. The February Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased at a low 1.3% annual rate. The Fed’s target range is commonly believed to be a 1.5% to 2.0% annual rate. The current low inflation environment makes it easier for the Fed to continue to hold the fed funds rate low to stimulate the economy.
Next week, Existing Home Sales will be released on Tuesday, and New Home Sales will come out on Wednesday. Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, is also scheduled for Wednesday. A revised report on first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, will come out on Friday, along with Consumer Sentiment. There will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Several Fed officials will be speaking during the week as well.