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Mortgage rates reach a high point mid-March, then decline

March residential mortgage rates took a winding path as updates from the Federal Reserve and the presidential office came to light.
4/3/2017 6:17:25 PM

Over the course of the month, March residential mortgage rates took a winding path as updates from the Federal Reserve and the presidential office came to light.

Rates increase during first half

The month started out with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.1%, according to data collected by Freddie Mac. The rate increased during the first half of the month, reaching a high point during the week ending March 16, when the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.3%.

With the conclusion of March's Federal Open Market Committee meeting came the second federal funds rate hike in three months, bringing it to a range of 0.75 to 1%.

Though the move was largely anticipated by many industry experts, it still affected government bond yields, which swung lower with the news, according to CNBC.

"The market was bracing for a much more hawkish tone from the Fed. The early reaction looks to be one of relief, that the market's worst fears were averted," Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, told CNBC.

Several members of the Fed have indicated that they believe a few more rate hikes are likely this year, as economic indicators portray a strong economy, solid labor force and growing consumer confidence.

Rates fall during second half of March

After their mid-month peak, mortgage rates began to descend. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slid to 4.23% during the week ending March 23, then 4.14% the week ending March 30.

Once news of the Fed rate hike dissipated, people's attention turned to another big decision: the fate of health care reform. Throughout his campaign, President Donald Trump vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he wasted no time getting to the point when he reached office.

After drafting a new plan, titled the American Health Care Act, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan tried their best to sway votes so they could fulfill the campaign promise. However, they found few lawmakers were satisfied with the new plan and failed to swing enough sentiment. After postponing the decision by a day, Trump decided to pull the AHCA, The Washington Post reported.

Throughout the back and forth in Washington surrounding the bill, stocks began to decline, trading lower just before the vote was scheduled to take place, then continuing to fall after the legislation was pulled. Investors are likely keeping a close eye on Trump and his efforts to pass policies.

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