The three major stock market indexes plus mortgage bonds ended the week modestly lower after strong economic data elevated fears of higher interest rates.  The week’s solid economic data sent the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up to 3.12% on Thursday, its highest level in seven years.

 

In economic news, the Commerce Department reported retail sales increased by 0.3% in April.  Although this figure matched the consensus forecast, the government revised the sales data from February and March significantly higher.  With current labor market trends driving up wage income at an annualized rate of about 4.5%, retail spending growth should continue to trend higher over the coming months.  Furthermore, the New York Empire State and Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Indexes for May both showed significantly more manufacturing growth than expected.

 

There were several housing related reports released this past week.  Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI), a gauge of builder opinion on the relative level of current and future single-family home sales, came in with a reading of 70 for May, slightly higher than the consensus forecast of 69 and April’s downwardly revised reading of 68.  NAHB Chairman Randy Noel remarked “The solid May report shows that builders are buoyed by growing consumer demand for single-family homes.  However, the record-high cost of lumber is hurting builders’ bottom lines and making it more difficult to produce competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market.”

 

Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported new Housing Starts in April reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.287 million.  This was a decline of 3.7% from the upwardly revised March pace of 1.336 million but was an increase of 10.5% compared with the April 2017 rate of 1.165 million.  The consensus forecast called for a rate of around 1.325 million for April.  Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted rate of new Building Permits fell to 1.352 million, down 1.8% from the upwardly revised February rate of 1.377 million, but 7.7% higher than the April 2017 rate.

 

In the single-family home category, housing permits rose month over month in April from a revised annual rate of 851,000 in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 859,000.  The rate rose 7.9% year over year.  Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, had this to say about the report:  “We saw 894,000 single-family housing starts in April, a slight step up from an upwardly revised March figure.  We remain significantly behind a normal level of 1.2 million starts.  In fact, if single-family starts continue at the strong yearly growth rate we saw in April, it will be fall 2019 before annual single-family starts break the 1 million mark consistently — which is still 17 percent lower than normal.”

 

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a drop in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.7% during the week ended May 11, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0% to its lowest level since August 2008.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 35.9% from 36.3% of total applications from the prior week, its lowest level since September 2008.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity was unchanged at 6.5% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance decreased to 4.77% from 4.78% with points decreasing to 0.35 from 0.36.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond lost 39.0 basis points to close at $101.266 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 9.05 basis points to end at 3.06%.  The three major stock indexes ended lower for the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 116.08 points to close at 24,715.09.  The NASDAQ Composite Index dropped 48.54 points to close at 7,354.34.  The S&P 500 Index lost 14.75 points to close at 2,712.97.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 0.02%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 6.53%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 1.47%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.78% from 4.65%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.21% from 4.05%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 4.00% from 3.84% while the FHA 30-year rate rose to 4.50% from 4.45%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.80% from 4.68%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of May 21, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.266, -39.0 bp) traded within a wider 98.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.641 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $100.66 on Thursday before closing the week at $101.266 on Friday.  The bond had a positive bounce off of support on Thursday and Friday from a deeply oversold position resulting in a positive stochastic crossover buy signal.  From a technical perspective, the bond should trade up for a test of overhead resistance in the coming week, and should this happen; mortgage rates should undergo a slight improvement.

 

 

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Thursday is the best day to list a home, find out what time from CNBC.

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If the adage about rising tides lifting all boats is true, then it comes as no surprise that rising incomes have been helping to offset recent increases in mortgage rates, offering a boost to housing affordability in the first quarter of this year, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index shows.

 

With an increase of 59.6 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median income earners, the index showed that 61.6 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and the end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $71,900. That median income mark reflects an increase of 5.7 percent in 2018. According to a news article in Realtor Magazine, the NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz reports that this wage growth has helped to boost housing affordability. He goes on to say that a growing economy, along with tight inventories and increasing household formations, will lift housing production in the year ahead. This prediction is dependent, of course, on the fate of mortgage rates as the year progresses.

 

According to the article, of the 237 metro areas analyzed in the first quarter, the index showed 167 markets experiencing an increase in affordability compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

 

While we aren’t expecting you to scramble to an area based solely on affordability, if you’re looking for the nation’s most affordable major housing market, look no further than Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA metro area, where 90.9 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $60,100. Other affordable major housing markets (in order) were Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazleton, PA.; Toledo, OH; and Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA.

 

If you prefer small-town living, the most affordable small market is Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., where 98.5 percent of the homes sold in the first quarter are affordable to families earning the median income of $55,500.

 

The most unaffordable place to live if you fall in the median income slot? It’s still San Francisco, CA, which remains the most costly major housing market, and where only 9.2 percent of homes sold in the first quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $119,600. California continues to dominate the least affordable markets, with Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad falling closely behind them.

 

 

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The stock market registered solid gains for the week propelled by solid corporate earnings reports, economic news, and geopolitical events.  In fact, the S&P 500 Index recorded its best weekly advance in two months, closing above its 100-day moving average for the first time since the middle of March.  Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note briefly touched the psychologically important 3% barrier for the first time since April 26, but ended 1.80 basis points lower for the week at 2.97%.

 

The volume of first quarter corporate earnings reports is winding down, and overall, they have been very favorable for the stock market.  Data and analytics firm FactSet is projecting overall earnings for the S&P 500 have grown by 24.9% for the quarter over the prior year with nearly four out of five companies beating analysts’ earnings and revenue estimates.  Rising oil prices have also pushed energy sector stocks higher during the week.

 

Oil prices jumped on President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement while restoring sanctions on Iran.  Military actions between Iran and Israel further supported oil prices when Israel struck Iran’s military installations in Syria in response to an Iranian missile attack on the Israeli-held Golan Heights.  Iran is OPEC’s third-largest oil exporter, and the threat of continuing military conflict within the oil-rich Middle East prompted speculators to bet on a disruption to crude oil supply on the global market.  West Texas Intermediate crude oil reached a new three-and-a-half year high at $71.26 per barrel.

 

On the economic front, investors received some welcome inflation data on Thursday from the April Consumer Price Index (CPI) report.  Total inflation at the consumer level was reported at +0.2% and came in slightly below the consensus estimate of +0.3%.  The Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased only 0.1% and was below the consensus forecast of 0.2%.  This data may prompt the Federal Reserve to be less aggressive in raising interest rates this year.

 

There were only a couple housing related reports released this past week.  CoreLogic released their Loan Performance Insights Report for February 2018 showing the number of loans 30 or more days past due declined from 4.9% to 4.8%.  The number of seriously delinquent loans of 90 or more days past due remained stable at 2.1% while those in foreclosure remained stable at 0.6%.

 

Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, stated “Last year’s hurricanes continue to have an effect on loan performance in affected markets, showing up in statewide data.  Serious delinquency rates in February were 50% higher than in August 2017 in Texas, and nearly double in Florida, even though the wind and flood damage was primarily in coastal markets.  In Puerto Rico, the damage was widespread.  Serious delinquency rates were up five-fold over the August-to-February period, with a significant increase in all metropolitan areas there.”

 

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a slight decline in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 0.4% during the week ended May 4, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 0.2% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 1.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 36.3% from 36.5% of total applications from the prior week, its lowest level since September 2008.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.5% from 6.7% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance decreased to 4.78% from 4.80% with points decreasing to 0.50 from 0.53.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond lost 18.8 basis points to close at $101.656 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 1.80 basis points to end at 2.9695%.  The major stock indexes moved higher for the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 568.66 points to close at 24,831.17.  The NASDAQ Composite Index gained 193.26 points to close at 7,402.88.  The S&P 500 Index added 64.30 points to close at 2,727.72.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has added 0.45%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 7.24%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 2.02%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.65% from 4.62%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.05% from 4.00%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.84% from 3.78% while the FHA 30-year rate stayed unchanged at 4.45%.  Jumbo 30-year rates were also unchanged at 4.68%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of May 14, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.656, -18.8 bp) traded within a slightly wider 53.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.922 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $101.392 on Friday before closing the week at $101.656 on Friday.  The bond looks like it will continue to be range-bound this coming week, trading between the dual bands of support and resistance shown on the chart below.  As a result, mortgage rates should remain relatively stable this week.

 

 

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Never underestimate the power of words. Sellers evidently care about who they sell their homes to. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, using data provided by Seattle-based brokerage Redfin, one of the most effective ways to win a bidding war is to write the seller a letter.

 

Other factors can up your game as well. Unsurprisingly, all-cash offers can double your chances of winning the bid. And waiving a financing contingency (agreeing to forfeit your deposit if you can’t get a mortgage) can boost a buyer’s odds by 57.9%, according to the data. Escalation clauses (including verbiage that should another offer be higher, you would automatically pay a designated figure over that amount — kind of like eBay). But escalation clauses can also be a turn-off in some markets, so they must be used wisely.

 

Using articulate writing skills came in a close third in the study, however, increasing a buyer’s odds by 52.2%. Numbers vary according to market demographics — the higher the price, the higher the percentages.

 

Redfin’s data are based on about 14,000 offers in 2016 and 2017 that involved competing bids. It’s logical to assume that rational sellers would choose the highest bid. But risk aversion can often trump high offers. To avoid the pain of a deal going dead, sellers often choose the sure thing, such as a quick close or all cash (especially both)—even if it means accepting less money.

 

But back to the letter idea. Evidently, in addition to flattering a seller’s ego—or assuring him or her the home will be cared for—a letter can also signal serious intent on the part of the buyer — something that makes the seller believe that no matter what the hurdles, the buyers will make it work. The confidence gained by putting a face and a story to the transaction is like verifying that your doctor wears a clean white lab coat and has a great bedside manner.

 

Some buyers tell tales of their dilemmas in these letters, such as their years-long quest for a home that is situated in the kind of neighborhood they always wanted for their children or living near family. Others praise the homeowners for keeping the vintage touches of their home intact, pledging to preserve the home’s charm if their bid is accepted.

 

Sometimes knowing the provenance of a home or a neighborhood can push an owner over the edge. The article tells of how the buyer found out that the seller was not only an active local volunteer but also had custom-built the home years earlier. In a letter, the buyer described his desire to part of the community as well as maintain the house, rather than tear it down. In the end, he beat out a higher offer.

 

So next time you speak ill of your high school English teacher who pounded into you the importance of a 5-paragraph essay, know that those skills, including the art of story-telling, can tug at a homeowner’s heartstrings when the going gets tough.

 

Source: TBWS

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The stock market seemed to lack conviction this past week as investors had to wade through a plethora of corporate earnings, including technology giant Apple’s quarterly report, in addition to the latest monetary policy decision from the Fed and the Employment Situation report for April.  As a result, the major stock indexes ended “mixed” for the week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index edging lower while the NASDAQ Composite Index moved slightly higher.  The 10-year Treasury yield slipped slightly lower at 2.95% after approaching 3% on Wednesday.

 

The Fed’s latest monetary policy decision arrived Wednesday afternoon without any real surprises. As expected, Fed officials unanimously decided to leave the federal funds target range unchanged at 1.50% to 1.75%.  However, the Fed’s policy statement led investors to believe there will be a rate hike at their June meeting with the possibility for another one to two rate hikes before the end of the year.  Indeed, the latest probability reading from the Fed Fund Futures market now stands at 100% for a 25 basis point rate hike at the Fed’s June 13 FOMC meeting.

 

The Employment Situation (Jobs) report for April was released Friday morning, showing a lower than forecast 164,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls.  Although this was lower than the consensus estimate of 190,000, upwardly revised readings for the prior two months balanced the shortfall.  Average hourly earnings growth of +0.2% matched expectations while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest it has been in 17.5 years.  The reason the unemployment rate fell below 4% was not due to new job formation, but as a result of 236,000 people dropping out of the labor force during the month.

 

There were several housing related reports released this past week.  The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported Pending Home Sales edged higher in March by 0.4%.  This was below the consensus forecast calling for a 1.5% gain, and was constrained by continuing tight inventory levels and appreciating home values that are making it difficult for prospective buyers to find affordable homes to buy.  NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun, remarked “Healthy economic conditions are creating considerable demand for purchasing a home, but not all buyers are able to sign contracts because of the lack of choices in inventory.  Steady price growth and the swift pace listings are coming off the market are proof that more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand.”

 

The U.S. Census Bureau announced total Construction Spending fell 1.7% in March following an upwardly revised 1.0% increase for February.  Private construction spending fell due to a 3.5% decline in residential spending including a 0.4% drop in single-family construction spending, and a 0.4% decline in nonresidential spending led by a 2.2% decline in commercial spending.  Year-over-year, total construction spending was up 3.6%, with public construction spending 3.0% higher and private construction spending up 3.9%.

CoreLogic® released their latest Home Price Index (HPI™) and HPI Forecast™ for March 2018, showing home prices increased both on a year-over-year and month-over-month basis.  Home prices increased nationally by 7% year-over-year from March 2017 to March 2018, and by 1.4% in March 2018 on a month-over-month basis.  Furthermore, the CoreLogic HPI Forecast shows the national home-price index is projected to continue to increase by 5.2% on a year-over-year basis from March 2018 to March 2019.  Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, stated “Home prices grew briskly in the first quarter of 2018.  High demand and limited supply have pushed home prices above where they were in early 2006.  New construction still lags historically normal levels, keeping upward pressure on prices.”

 

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decline in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.5% during the week ended April 27, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 36.5% from 37.2% of total applications from the prior week, its lowest level since September 2008.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.7% from 6.5% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.80% from 4.73%, its highest level since September 2013.  Points increased to 0.53 from 0.49.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 3.1 basis points to close at $101.844 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 0.72 of one basis point to end at 2.9515%.  The major stock indexes ended “mixed” for the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 48.68 points to close at 24,262.51.  The NASDAQ Composite Index gained 89.82 points to close at 7,209.62.  The S&P 500 Index lost 6.49 points to close at 2,663.42.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 1.85%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 4.44%, and the S&P 500 Index has dropped 0.38%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.62% from 4.64%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.00% from 4.02%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.78% while the FHA 30-year rate stayed unchanged at 4.45%.  Jumbo 30-year rates were also unchanged at 4.68%.

Economic Calendar – for the Week of May 7, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.844, +3.1 bp) traded within a narrower 48.4 basis point range between a weekly intraday low of $101.516 on Wednesday and a weekly intraday high of $102.00 on Friday before closing the week at $101.844 on Friday.  The bond looks like it will be range-bound this coming week, trading between dual bands of support and resistance.  This should result in relatively stable mortgage rates this week.

 

 

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Market action in stocks and bonds was driven by a combination of 1st Quarter earnings reports, economic news, and geopolitical news of a historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, who agreed on Friday to work to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and, within the year, pursue talks with the United States to declare an official end to the Korean War.

 

This week past week more than a third of S&P 500 companies reported their earnings results and they were mostly better than expected.  However, several companies including Caterpillar provided forward guidance that was worse than anticipated, helping to send stock prices lower for the week while at least temporarily boosting bond prices on Thursday and Friday.  Caterpillar helped to take the Dow lower after saying in its post-earnings conference call that margins in the first quarter will be the “high water mark” for the year.

 

Other than earnings reports, investors closely monitored Treasury yields, which reached new multi-year highs on Wednesday before retreating on Thursday and Friday.  The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield crossed above the psychologically important 3.0% mark for the first time in over four years, reaching 3.03% before closing the week at 2.96%.

In economic news, 1st quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed the US economy grew by 2.3%, which was higher than expectations of 2.0%, but lower than the fourth quarter’s growth rate of 2.9%.  Weaker consumer spending in the first quarter was largely responsible with only a 1.1% increase following an increase of 4.0% in the fourth quarter.

 

In housing, the National Association of Realtors reported Existing Home Sales increased 1.1% month-over-month in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million, slightly above the consensus forecast of 5.57 million.  The median existing home price for all housing types increased 5.8% to $250,400, while the median existing single-family home price increased 5.9% from a year ago to $252,100.  Home inventory for sale at the end of March increased 5.7% to 1.67 million, but this is 7.2% lower than the same period a year ago.  Unsold inventory is at a 3.6-month supply at the current rate of sales.  The low inventory of existing homes for sale coupled with high prices and rising mortgage rates continues to hinder overall sales.

 

Further, the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported New Home Sales in March at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 versus expectations for 631,000.  This was a 4.0% month-over-month increase above an upwardly revised February rate of 667,000.  The median sales price of new houses sold in March was $337,200, a year-over-year increase of 4.8%.  The average sales price dipped 3.8% to $369,900.  Based on the current rate of sales, the inventory of new homes for sale fell to a 5.2-months’ supply, versus 5.4 months in February and 5.0 months in the year-ago period.

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a drop in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 0.2% during the week ended April 20, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index was unchanged from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 0.3%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 37.2% from 37.6% of total applications from the prior week, its lowest level since September 2008.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.5% from 6.6% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.73% from 4.66%, its highest level since September 2013.  Points increased to 0.49 from 0.46.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 12.5 basis points to close at $101.813 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 0.15 of one basis point to end at 2.9587%.  The major stock indexes moved modestly lower during the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 151.75 points to close at 24,311.19.  The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 26.33 points to close at 7,119.80.  The S&P 500 Index lost 0.23 points to close at 2,669.91.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 1.65%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 3.13%, and the S&P 500 Index has lost 0.14%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.61% from 4.58%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 3.99% from 3.95%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.77% while the FHA 30-year rate moved from 4.37% to 4.43%.  Jumbo 30-year rates rose to 4.65% from 4.59%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of April 30, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($101.813, +12.5 bp) traded within a wider 64.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday low of $101.172 on Wednesday and a weekly intraday high of $101.813 on Friday before closing the week at $101.813 on Friday.

 

As anticipated in last week’s newsletter, mortgage bond prices first fell for a test technical support before managing to bounce higher during the latter half of the week.  The rebound on Thursday resulted in a positive stochastic crossover buy signal from a deeply oversold position.  There was also positive follow through on Friday with the bond closing at its high for the day.

 

From a purely technical basis, the bond should move higher for a test of resistance, and this would result in a slight improvement in rates.  However, there is a potential market-moving personal consumption expenditures (PCE) report looming on Monday.  This report is one of the Federal Reserve’s favorite measures of inflation, and if the data shows hotter than expected inflation we could see bond prices retreat back toward support resulting in slightly worse rates.

 

Furthermore, a Preliminary 1st Quarter Unit Labor Cost report on Thursday could show a rise in wage inflation that would be negative for bond prices.  The week’s economic reports will also be highlighted by the April Jobs Report that could also be a market mover impacting mortgage rates.  While the technical picture currently looks favorable, significant economic news often “trumps” technical signals.

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f you’re already a homeowner, do you wonder why you keep getting unsolicited snail mail asking if you have any interest in selling your home? Wonder no more. The gains in home prices are getting bigger as the supply of homes for sale gets leaner, and buyers and their agents are hoping-hoping-hoping you’ll consider selling now instead of later.

 

According to real estate broker Redfin, the median price of a home sold in March surged 8.9 percent compared with March 2017 —the biggest annual increase in four years. Redfin tracks prices in 174 local markets and calculated the median home price at $297,000.

 

Like sports cars built in limited supply, low-low home inventories are pushing prices higher. Housing supply was down 11.9 percent in March compared with a year ago. As a result, sales fell 3.7 percent. The number of new listings in March dropped 5.6 percent annually.

 

Redfin credits this to sellers being slow to list and new construction failing even to come close to closing the gap. If this does not change, inventory will be a persistent drag on sales for the remainder of the year.

 

Single-family home construction fell 3.7 percent in March, and building permits, an indicator of future construction, declined 5.5 percent, barely 2 percent higher compared with a year ago. Multifamily construction is one of the few bright spots in all this having increased considerably. Builders are banking on continued, strong demand for rental apartments as homebuyers struggle to find affordable homes.

 

Despite higher prices, buyer demand is still strong. Sellers, however, are slow to sell because of concerns about finding anything else they like or can afford as well as losing their low fixed mortgage interest rates. With multiple offers being the rule and not the exception to it throughout most larger urban areas, the average home went under contract in 43 days in March, more than a week faster compared with a year ago and a March record. Nearly a quarter of the homes sold for more than their list prices.

 

Large metropolitan markets in California, Seattle, and Denver continue to see big price gains, but some unexpected markets are seeing inflation as well. Markets like Allentown, PA (21.8 percent), Detroit, MI (20.6 percent) and Las Vegas, NV (16.5 percent) are not far behind.

 

The supply situation is most acute in Washington, D.C., where inventory fell 22 percent in March annually, according to expert sourced. It would take just 1.8 months at the current sales pace to exhaust the supply. A balanced market supply is considered to be about six months.

 

With the Feds expected to raise mortgage rates several more times in 2018, current homeowners will have even less incentive to sell. Sales have been dropping as a result of the tight supply, and prices usually lag sales by a few months. That does not appear to be the case, however, in this cycle, as demand is outweighing everything else.

 

 

Source: CNBC. TBWS

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Rising interest rates may slow down home buyers from CNBC.

 

 

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The stock market bounced back this past week as concerns about a possible trade war with China faded after several U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping downplayed talk of a retaliatory trade war.  In fact, Xi Jinping stated in a speech at the Boao Forum on Tuesday that he “plans to significantly cut tariffs on imported automobiles, reduce duties on other imported goods, and improve the intellectual property rights of foreign firms.”  Fears of a trade war with China were then replaced with rising geopolitical tension between the U.S. and Russia.

 

A suspected chemical attack from the Russian-supported Syrian government on the rebel-held town of Douma, Syria on April 7th brought strong condemnation and threats of a retaliatory strike against Syria from the U.S., Great Britain, and France.  Russia replied last Wednesday that it would shoot down any missiles fired at Syria prompting President Trump to state “get ready Russia, because they will be coming.”  And come they did late Friday evening when a military coalition from the U.S., Great Britain, and France struck several chemical weapons sites in Syria.  As a result, we will likely see a sharp increase in volatility this week in the financial markets with the rising tensions between Russia and coalition forces and the uncertainty that comes from military action in Syria.

The week’s economic reports took a backseat to geopolitical news, receiving a muted response from investors.  Minutes from the Fed’s March FOMC meeting were released containing no surprises.  The latest round of inflation data from the March Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) reports revealed a stiffening inflation trend with the PPI rising +0.3% while the core CPI advanced 0.2% for the month.  This will keep the Fed on plan to raise rates at least two more times this year with the next 25 basis point hike likely to occur at the June FOMC meeting with a probability of 95.0%.

 

According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey, there was a decline in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased by 1.9% during the week ended April 6, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased by 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index also decreased by 2.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 38.4% from 38.5% of total applications from the prior week, its lowest level since September 2008.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity fell to 6.3% from 6.5% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance fell to 4.66% from 4.69% with points increasing to 0.46 from 0.43.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond fell 32.8 basis points to close at $102.266 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 4.95 basis points to end at 2.8248%.  The major stock indexes moved higher during the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 427.38 points to close at 24,360.14.  The NASDAQ Composite Index advanced 191.54 points to close at 7,106.65.  The S&P 500 Index added 51.83 points to close at 2,656.30.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 3.18%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 0.17%, and the S&P 500 Index has lost 2.59%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.50% from 4.48%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 3.89% from 3.86%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.68% from 3.65% while the FHA 30-year rate was unchanged at 4.25%.  Jumbo 30-year rates rose to 4.51% from 4.50%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of April 16, 2018

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold

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Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($102.27, -32.8 bp) traded within a wider 60.9 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of $102.625 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $102.016 on Thursday before closing the week at $102.266 on Friday.

 

Mortgage bonds lost ground during the week as the stock market advanced and failed to remain above a declining 50-day moving average while also falling below the 25-day moving average.  These two moving averages now form a tight band of overhead resistance.  However, Friday’s trading resulted in a potentially bullish two-day Harami candlestick pattern signaling a possible change in market direction higher that will require confirmation on Monday with a positive candlestick with a higher closing price.

 

With a coalition of U.S., Great Britain, and French military forces striking chemical weapons installations in Syria late Friday evening to significantly increase geopolitical tensions with Syrian ally Russia, we will likely see increased volatility in the stock and crude oil markets with investors moving money from stocks into bonds in a “flight to safety” trade.  If this anticipated reaction is strong enough, it would be bullish for mortgage bonds and would perhaps send prices above both resistance levels resulting in a slight improvement in mortgage rates this coming week.

 

 

 

 

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