Chinese stocks experienced a hard sell last week. A couple of that country's major market indices dropped over 10% over a couple of trading days. The sell-off in Chinese stocks lead to a buy-in of traditionally haven investments, like the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which saw its yield drop by nearly 15 basis points. Of course, as the 10-year note goes, so go mortgage rates, which have eased over the past two weeks.

If China's stock market remains weak, odds favor the Federal Reserve sustaining from raising the federal funds rates in September. The next meeting of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) occurs September 17, and many market participants anticipate the first rate increase since 2006. We are somewhat less anticipatory.

We still think a rate increase is in the more distant future. China is one reason; our own economic growth is another. Gross domestic product (GDP) was negative in the first quarter. What's more, growth for the second quarter is expected to be positive, but weak. In addition, the U.S. dollar remains strong against most major currencies. An interest-rate increase will further raise the perception of a strong dollar, thus pressuring it to appreciate even more.

With that said, we could be wrong on the Fed come September, but even if we are, that doesn't mean long-term lending rates will rise. On the other hand, they could rise even if the Fed continues to hold the fed funds rate at current levels. China, not the Fed, could be the key factor in interest rates over the next couple months.

Information provided by Jessica Regan.

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