Thursday, June 04, 2009

Record High Yield Curve, Rising Mortgage Rates

by Bill McBride on 6/04/2009 03:23:00 PM

The difference in yields between Treasury two- and 10-year notes widened to a record again today ... The so-called yield curve steepened to 2.79 percentage points, surpassing the previous record of 2.75 percentage points set last week. The previous record was 2.74 on Aug. 13, 2003.

Yield Curve Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the difference between the ten- and two-year yields.

Usually a steep yield curve precedes a period of decent growth, but several analysts suggest the current ten year sell-off is due to concerns about increased Treasury issuance to finance the deficit. Whatever the reason, mortgage rates higher are moving higher, from Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Climb in Response to Recent Rise in Bond Yields

Freddie Mac (today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.29 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending June 4, 2009, up from last week when it averaged 4.91 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.09 percent.
...
"30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates caught up to the recent rise in long-term bond yields this week to reach a 25-week high," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist."
Update: From Bloomberg: Treasuries Fall as Claims Drop Suggests Worst of Slump Ending (ht speed)
Yields on 10-year notes approached a six-month high ... The difference between two- and 10-year notes steepened to a record 2.793 percentage points as the U.S. announced it would auction $30 billion in 10- and 30-year securities next week.
...
The increase in Treasury yields have also driven rates on mortgage-backed bonds higher, leading holders of the securities to sell U.S. debt used as a hedge to protect portfolios against rising interest rates. The same trade helped drive 10-year Treasury yields to 3.75 percent last week, the highest since November.

“There is mortgage selling going on,” Mizuho’s Combias said. “The volatility is causing all the big mortgage portfolios to have to hedge.”

Yields on Washington-based Fannie Mae’s current-coupon 30- year fixed-rate mortgage bonds rose 19 basis points to 4.72 percent, up from 3.94 percent on May 20.