If The Fed Didn’t Hike, Why Did Mortgage Rates Hit Long Term Highs?
Mortgage rates actually recovered a bit on Friday as the underlying bond market experienced a modest correction after spiking to the weakest levels in more than a decade over the past 2 days. Despite the improvement, mortgages are also still near multi-decade highs. Why is this the case when the Fed didn’t hike rates this week? This counterintuitive movement is fairly common when it comes to the 8 Fed meetings each year. Rates have fallen on several occasions when the Fed hiked throughout this rate hike cycle. There are several reasons this can happen. Some are complicated, but two of the simplest reasons are all we need this time around. First off, the Fed only has 8 scheduled opportunities to update rates every year while the bond market has thousands of opportunities every day. Because of that, a Fed rate hike is often just a lagging development that the market has already priced in. The Fed actually tries to avoid surprising the market when it comes to hikes/cuts. Via speeches and press conferences, it effectively preps the market for potential changes. The market can trade these expectations in a variety of ways. The most direct is via Fed Funds Futures, which give traders a way to bet on the level of the Fed Funds Rate on any given month well into the future. Traders haven’t budged in their expectation of this week’s meeting resulting in a 5.375% Fed Funds Rate for months!