October 18th, 2013 1:31 PM by Jonathan White
Congress Reaches Deal
Congress approved a deal on Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling and to fund the government for a few months. The news lifted both stocks and bonds. The S&P 500 index reached an all-time high. Mortgage rates also improved nicely after the deal was reported.
The deal extends the government's borrowing authority until February 7, removing the risk of default. The deal also funds the government until January 15, ending the shutdown. It provides more time for negotiations, but it does not bring the two sides any closer to reaching a long-term agreement on the major fiscal issues. For mortgage markets, even the slight risk of default had been enough to prevent some investors from purchasing government bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS). After the deal, these investors resumed their purchases of MBS, which lifted MBS prices and lowered mortgage rates.