Homebuilder ETFs Find Strength as Mortgage Rates Slip

After the sharp sell-off on Wednesday, home construction stocks and homebuilder sector-related exchange traded funds were among the few areas of strength Thursday in response to the fall in mortgage rates.

On Thursday, the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEArca: XHB) rose 0.9% and iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSEArca: ITB) increased 1.6%.

Homebuilders have been under pressure as housing affordability concerns weighed on the sector, specially in recent months as mortgage rates and home prices continued to push higher. However, home construction stocks were bucking the broader sell-off trend Thursday as mortgage rates retreated in face of rising market volatility and increased demand for safe-haven, long-term debt.

According to the latest Freddie Mac data, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to a two-month low of 4.75% with an average 0.5 point, or fees paid to a lender equal to 1% of a loan amount, The Washington Post reports. In contrast, it was 4.81% a week ago and 3.94% a year ago.

Safe-haven demand has been pushing up bond prices and dragging on yields. For example, the benchmark yields on 10-year Treasuries dipped below the 3% level this week for the first time in almost two months.