Market Commentary

 

For the week of December 11, 2017

Last Week in Review

"I got a job baby. I got work to do." The Isley Brothers. New job creation exceeded expectations in November, but earnings disappointed.

Job growth remained solid in November after the brief hiccup in September due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 228,000 new jobs were created last month, above the 190,000 expected. The Unemployment Rate also remained at 4.1 percent, which is considered full employment. Average hourly earnings disappointed, however, growing by 0.2 percent from October to November, below the 0.3 percent expected. Year over year, earnings rose 2.5 percent, again below the 2.7 percent expected. In 2017, average monthly job growth eased to 174,000 new jobs per month from 187,000 in 2016.

Home prices continued their winning ways and pushed higher in October due in part to a strengthening economy, an acute lack of home supply and low home loan rates. Data analytics firm CoreLogic reported that home prices, including distressed sales, surged 7 percent from October 2016 to October 2017 and were up 0.9 percent from September to October. Looking ahead, CoreLogic sees a slowing in prices. Expectations are for a rise of 4.2 percent from October 2017 to October 2018.

Although home prices continue to rise, home loan rates remain attractive. 

Forecast for the Week

The Fed meeting highlights a week that also brings news on inflation and retail sales.

  • Economic data kicks off on Tuesday with inflation numbers from the Producer Price Index followed by the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday.
  • Retail Sales and weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be delivered on Thursday.
  • On Friday, regional manufacturing data will be released in the Empire State Index.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based. 

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.  

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bond prices have been volatile in recent days. Home loan rates remain attractive.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Dec 08, 2017)


 

For the week of December 4, 2017

Last Week in Review

"You gotta break all the records set." Rod Stewart.  New Home Sales increased across the country in October, breaking through to their best level in a decade. 

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes in October rose to their highest level in 10 years, rising 6.2 percent from September to an annual rate of 685,000 units, above the 629,000 expected. September was revised lower to 645,000 units from 667,000. Year over year, New Home Sales rose 18.7 percent. Currently, there is a 4.9-month supply of new homes for sale on the market. A six-month supply is seen as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

Home prices continued to rise in September, buoyed by low mortgage rates, an improving economy and a strong labor market. The September S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 6.2 percent year over year, above the 5.8 percent registered in August. It was the biggest increase in more than three years.

Strong economic growth continues, as seen in the second reading on third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Third quarter GDP rose 3.3 percent, up from 3 percent in the first reading. This was the best number since the third quarter of 2014, despite consumer spending falling to 2.3 percent in the third quarter of this year. In 2017, GDP registered 1.2 percent in the first quarter and 3.1 percent in the second quarter. GDP is the monetary value of all finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period. It is considered the broadest measure of economic activity. 

Meanwhile, inflation remained tame in October. The Fed's favorite inflation gauge, Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), was up 0.2 percent from September. Year over year, Core PCE was 1.4, up from 1.3 percent the month prior, remaining well below the Fed's 2 percent target range.

At this time, home loan rates remain in attractive territory.

Forecast for the Week

The Fed will be watching for the latest employment figures as the November Jobs Report is delivered on Friday.

  • The ISM Services Index will be released on Tuesday.
  • The ADP National Employment Report is due to be delivered on Wednesday along with Productivity.
  • As usual on Thursday, weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released.
  • The week wraps up with more employment data from Friday's release of the November Jobs Report, which includes Non-Farm Payrolls, the Unemployment Rate and Average Hourly Earnings.
  • The Consumer Sentiment Index will also be released on Friday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.     

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning. 

As you can see in the chart below, various news stories led to market volatility in recent days. Home loan rates remain attractive.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Dec 01, 2017)