On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the long-awaited minutes of the latest meeting of the Fed governors. The minutes revealed what we expected they would reveal: The Fed will wrap up quantitative easing next month, so it will cease new purchases of Treasury notes and bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). (The Fed will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments in MBS and rolling over existing Treasury debt.)

The minutes also revealed that the Fed intends to wait "a considerable time" before raising the influential federal funds rate (the rate banks lend to each other). The idea is that the Fed wants interest rates to remain low until “structural” issues related to the job market are rectified. In other words, the Fed would like to see more job growth in better-paying jobs before raising the federal funds rate.

If maintaining the low rates that materialized in the past month is what the Fed wanted, that's not what it got. After we learned the federal funds rates (which is at zero) is unlikely to rise until next year, the rate on the influential 10-year Treasury note rose nearly 10 basis points. Mortgage rates, unsurprisingly, also moved higher. In short, rates on the longer end of the yield curve rose. We doubt this is what the Fed was anticipating.

We're not predicting a steady rise in long-term interest rates – including mortgage rates. But it's worth keeping in mind that even if the Fed wants something, there is no guarantee it will get it. Markets are powerful and unpredictable forces. Mortgage rates might hang low for another six months, or even another year, but there are no guarantees.

Information provided by Jessica Regan.

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