Mortgage Time

Julie C. Nichols General

Progress on Tax Plan
Additional threats from North Korea were positive for mortgage rates early in the week. However, the announcement of a tax reform plan on Wednesday was negative. The two events were roughly offsetting, and mortgage rates ended the week just slightly higher.
On Monday, North Korean officials said that they interpreted recent comments made by President Trump as a declaration of war. Investors reacted to this by shifting to relatively safer assets, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The increased demand for MBS caused mortgage rates to decline.
The volatility seen this week continued on Wednesday, but the movement was in the opposite direction from Monday. It took place after President Trump released additional details about his proposed tax reform plan. If passed, this plan is expected to boost economic growth and to increase the budget deficit. Faster economic growth raises the outlook for future inflation, which is negative for mortgage rates. A larger deficit increases the supply of bonds, which also is bad for mortgage rates.

In August, core PCE was just 1.3% higher than a year ago, down from an annual rate of 1.4% in July and from 1.9% in February. This is the inflation indicator favored by the Fed. Most Fed officials expect that inflation will gradually rise toward their target level of 2.0% over the medium term, but each additional month of low readings adds doubt that their forecasts are correct.
Looking ahead, the important monthly Employment report will be released on Friday. As usual, this data on the number of jobs, the unemployment rate, and wage inflation will be the most highly anticipated economic data of the month. Before that, the ISM national manufacturing index will be released on Monday, and the ISM national services index on Wednesday. In addition news about North Korea or tax reform again could influence mortgage rates.

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