Mortgage rates are expected to push higher after Tuesday’s surge in yields for 10-year Treasury notes and news that two Bear Stearns hedge funds that invested heavily in bonds backed by subprime mortgages may be near collapse.
The yield on 10-year Treasury notes hit 5.15 percent Wednesday — an increase of six basis points in 24 hours that could also push up mortgage rates.
Freddie Mac’s June 14 survey showed the rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages jumping 21 basis points in one week, to 6.74 percent, an 11-month high.
News that a creditor of the two Bear Stearns hedge funds, Merrill Lynch & Co., was seizing $800 million of bonds held as collateral raised the possibility of further tightening of credit in subprime lending.
If that happens, home buyers with blemished credit will have a harder time getting approved for a loan and pay higher interest rates, diminishing their buying power. Homeowners seeking to refinance existing loans could also face greater difficulties getting approved.
The Bear Stearns hedge funds — the High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund, and the High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund — are invested in mortgage bonds and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) backed by home loans.
Merrill Lynch & Co. decided to sell bonds it held as collateral to loans it made to the Bear Stearns hedge funds because of their mounting losses, Bloomberg News reported.
That prompted worries that other hedge funds and investors in subprime loans could face similar difficulties, making it more difficult for mortgage originators to sell loans in the secondary market.