While the Federal Reserve doesn't directly dictate mortgage rates, the outlook for Fed rate hikes matters a great deal.  In the days and weeks leading up to almost every Fed announcement in the past year, the market has had a very clear sense of how quickly the Fed would be hiking as well as the general levels at which it would likely be done hiking.

That had been the case for the upcoming meeting as well.  There really hadn't been any doubt that the Fed would continue to hike by 0.25% increments.  But several big ticket economic reports caused traders to rethink the outlook.  In fact, even Fed Chair Powell admitted that no decision has been made yet and things could change after the jobs report and next week's inflation data.

That makes Friday's jobs report incredibly important for rate momentum in the short term.  The data will be released at 8:30am ET.  If it's much stronger than expected, mortgage rates will likely be moving quickly higher.  If it misses forecasts, rates should fall.  Either move would be tempered by anticipation for next week's CPI (consumer price index... a key inflation report that could have just as much of an impact.

As for today, rates started out modestly higher, but most lenders ended up offering mid-day improvements that brought the average rate slightly below yesterday's.