Mortgage rates are not really “tied” to the bond market but often mimic the movements of the bond market as mortgage securities are often sold through the issuance of a bond. The primary issue today however, is the instability of the US housing industry.
We very well may see the 10 year treasury bond’s yield go down today (bond yields move inversely to their price) as investors may seek to put their money into safer investments than the stock market and US debt is still considered the safest play.
The strength we may see in treasuries will probably not not trickle through into the mortgage market however as there is still a tremendous credit crunch in this market. Buyers of mortgage backed securities are very hard to come by and the spread between US treasuries and CMO’s will more than likely widen.
If it just so happens that strength in treasuries trickle down to mortgage rates, I would take advantage of the drop and lock my rate today. If not, and you have some time between now and your closing, I would probably hold off from locking and take a short term wait and see position. But I’m a bit of a gambler. The safe bet is always to lock with a rate you are comfortable with and do not try to time the market. Mortgage rates have a habit of going up faster than they go down.
Because this question references some time-specific information, I will answer with generalizations.
The only bond market that home mortgage rates are tied to is the MBS (mortgage-backed-security) market. That said, national and international investments can play a role in demand (and thus price) of MBS.
As far as rates being affected due to the plunge in foreign markets, this is usually not the case. The US stock exchanges have a significantly higher level of impact on the rest of the world than the other way around. Normally we will see global indexes suffer after the US has a bad day.
Depending on other data, MBS can be very closely tied to stock markets. An over-generalization would be that traders are either bullish or bearish on growth. If they are bullish, they will buy stocks and “not-buy” MBS. That “not-buying” makes sellers of MBS lower the price to make them more attractive relative to stocks, and that lower price causes mortgage rates to go up.
If they are bearish, they will want to pursue “safe-harbor” investments such as bonds. In this case there may be an increased demand for MBS which would raise the price, thus decreasing mortgage rates. This often coincides with poor performance in stock indexes, but not always.
There are numerous other factors that come into play regarding MBS. But to answer the final question. Mortgage rates generally would not “jump up” on the heels of negative stocks for the reasons stated above. In fact, their tendency is to do the opposite.
A final thought is that MBS and “bonds” as the general public know them are quite different. MBS are securities that are backed by something that is backed by a home. As such, there is much more risk involved than a US treasury bond which is backed by the full faith of our government. As such, traders are willing to pay more for treasury bonds. This creates a “spread” between the yield curve of treasuries and the yield curve of MBS. The higher the spread, the more it indicates a negative quality perception of MBS, and the higher it gets, the more pressure there is on buyers to take what might be a great deal.
Approached from the other side, an MBS might look like a great deal because of the higher yield until traders consider the risk. So if there is negative economic buzz surrounding mortgages, MBS prices could suffer relative to treasuries. This drives mortgage rates higher.
If you do not already know about it, check out this website’s daily market analysis.