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Mortgage rates pause ahead of expected increases

Fixed mortgage rates barely budged this week, but they appear poised to head higher.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average held steady at 4.55 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was the same as it was a week ago and up from a year ago when it was 4.05 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate average slipped to 4.01 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 4.03 percent a week ago and 3.29 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 3.77 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.69 percent a week ago and 3.14 percent a year ago.

“The minimal movement of mortgage rates in these last three weeks reflects the current economic nirvana of a tight labor market, solid economic growth and restrained inflation,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “While this year’s higher rates – up 50 basis points from a year ago – have put pressure on the budgets of some home shoppers, weak inventory levels are what’s keeping the housing market from a stronger sales pace.

Credit card usage hits all-time high

Any worries that the American consumer would become overly conservative about credit card debt, post crisis, have pretty much been put to rest. Whether the means be literally plastic, or some other form of tapping card account credit, the appetite for this borrowing is like that pink battery bunny. It keeps on going.

The latest findings from TransUnion ’s credit databases indicate that credit card usage has hit an all-time high.

Americans have 416.5 million credit cards, and 174.9 million of them have access to at least one credit card, according to first quarter 2018 figures from TransUnion. Those totals represent increases of 22.5% and 17.1%, respectively, over first quarter 2012 figures. Average credit card debt per borrower hit $5,472 in the first quarter, an increase of 3.3% over 2012.

Serious card delinquencies have been rising in this period. (This is defined as 90+ days past due.) At 1.78% for the first quarter, they have edged out delinquencies seen in 2012, at 1.77%. TransUnion points out that this is still below the ten-year first-quarter average of 1.91%.

Can someone please explain the correlation between credit/mortgage fears and the stock market?

"Major gauges tumble on credit and mortgage market fears; Dow, Nasdaq, S&P 500 all down 10 percent off highs - reaching market correction levels."

This was the headline on CNN.

I work for one of the largest (still standing) mortgage banks in the county. I've been in and out of the industry for 10 years. I got out in the last crash in 1998. By the looks of things, it's a lot worse than it was 10 years ago.