Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Once in a lifetime" rates coming back?

When 10-year Treasury Note yields sank to the low 3s in 2003 (3.11% on June 13, 2003 was the low-water mark, per Bloomberg), there was a lot of talk about how those were "once in a lifetime low" yields. If you recall, that was when we had a 1% federal funds rate and a major deflation scare.

But if you can believe it, we're closing in on that territory again. The 10-year was recently going for 3.54%, less than 50 basis points off that 2003 low. Could "once in a lifetime" yields become "twice in a lifetime" ones? Could we take out the 3% barrier? Now, THAT would be a sight to see.
For you technically inclined types, the chart above shows how we broke the uptrend in yields in August -- and subsequently plunged. Today, we took out the last level of support before the 2003 lows. That opens the door to a "re-test" of those levels.

In the meantime, mortgage borrowers who have good credit and a decent-sized home equity position are going to be able to refinance into cheaper, longer-term mortgages if this keeps up. I'm seeing 30-year loan quotes in the low 5s now. Fifteen year mortgage rates have breached the 5% barrier. In case you're wondering, the low for 30-year rates was 5.21% in June 2003 and 4.6% for the 15-year, according to Freddie Mac.


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