After falling sharply in the second half of 2010, mortgage rates climbed in the 1st quarter of 2011. Strength from a variety of economic indicators including consumer spending, confidence and even housing led the 10-year Treasury higher. This pattern dragged the rate on the average 30-year fixed upward with the Treasury. As a result the spread between the 10-year and the 30-year FRM shrank. This pattern is likely to reverse course in the 2nd quarter as fighting in Libya and uncertainty in Egypt have caused oil prices to spike. In addition, the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan impacted supply chains necessary for production by U.S. firms. The combined effect was a reduction in economic growth in the 1st quarter. This unexpected shock drew down expectation for economic growth and the 10-year Treasury. Mortgage rates have followed suit and were well below 5% as of May. Rates are likely to remain low in the near term, but are expected to reach 5.6% by the 4th quarter of 2011.
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