Mortgage Market News for the week ending May 16, 2014

The two biggest reports on economic growth released this week both fell short of the forecasts, which was favorable for mortgage rates. In addition, expectations increased for a bond purchase program by the European Central Bank (ECB), which also was positive for mortgage rates. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week near the lowest levels of the year.

In recent weeks, the economic data generally has shown a solid rebound from the weather-related slowdown seen this winter. This week’s data for April activity caused investors to grow a little more cautious about the outlook for the rest of the year, however. While the forecast was for a third straight month of large gains, April Retail Sales rose just slightly from March. Retail Sales account for roughly one third of consumer spending, so a big miss is significant. Another important indicator of economic activity, Industrial Production, showed a sharp decline, surprising most economists.

A bright spot in this week’s economic data came from the housing sector on Friday, and the better results offset some of the improvement seen in mortgage rates earlier in the week. April Housing Starts increased 13% from March, far exceeding the consensus forecast, and they were 26% higher than one year ago. April Building Permits rose 8% from March to the highest level since June 2008. Most of the increase came from multi-family units, however. Excluding multi-family units, Housing Starts showed much more modest gains.



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