Trade tensions and inflation data dominated investor sentiment creating increased volatility in the stock market.  Stocks got off to a good start last Monday primarily due to a lack of any bad news over the prior weekend.  Stocks then fell on Wednesday when trade tensions surfaced on news the U.S. would continue its plan to enact an additional $200 billion worth of tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods to begin a few months from now.  However, this threat was not met with an immediate response from China and investors viewed this as a positive sign helping the stock market to recover on Thursday.  In fact, the technology laden NASDAQ Composite Index set a new all-time high on Thursday and Friday.

 

Inflation data came in a little hotter than expected with the Producer Price Index rising 0.3% in June following a 0.5% increase in May.  On an annualized basis, Producer Prices have increased 3.4%, their fastest increase in almost seven years.  Increased costs for steel and aluminum were noticeable suggesting the tariffs recently put in place by the Trump administration for these metals are beginning to drive input costs higher for manufacturers.

 

Also, inflation at the consumer level edged higher but was within the consensus forecast.  The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) in June increased 0.1% with the Core CPI rising 0.2%.  However, consumer prices have risen 2.9% over the past year for its highest rate in six years.  This year-over-year rate more than offsets the 2.7% increase in average annual wages over the same time period leading to growing inflation concerns.   These concerns have shown up in the latest Consumer Sentiment report from the University of Michigan where it was noted “The primary concerns expressed by consumers were a decline in the future pace of economic growth and an uptick in inflation.”

 

In housing, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey released on Wednesday showed an increase in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) rose 2.5% during the week ended July 6, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 7.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0% from a week earlier to its lowest level since December 2000.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity decreased to 34.8% from 37.2% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.3% 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 4.76% from 4.79% with points increasing to 0.43 from 0.41.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond lost 7.9 basis points to close at $101.984 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 0.068 of one basis point to end at 2.8308%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 562.93 points to close at 25,019.41.  The NASDAQ Composite Index advanced 137.59 points to close at 7,825.98.  The S&P 500 Index added 41.49 points to close at 2,801.31.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 1.21%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has advanced 13.36%, and the S&P 500 Index has added 4.78%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.63% from 4.65%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.12% from 4.13%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.95% from 3.99% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.35% from 4.37%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.54% from 4.59%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of July 16, 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 ($101.984, -7.9 bp) traded within a narrower 26.6 basis point range between a weekly intra-day high of 102.016 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.750 on Wednesday and Thursday before closing the week at $101.984 on Friday.  Mortgage bonds traded within a narrow range between resistance and support levels ending the week close to resistance located at $101.988 on Friday.  A weak sell signal on Tuesday was followed by a weak buy signal on Friday suggesting the bond could continue to consolidate and trade sideways like it did last week.  This should result in stable mortgage rates this coming week

 

 

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This past holiday-shortened week was good for both the broad stock market indexes and mortgage bonds as both asset classes finished the week moderately higher.  Trading volumes were lower than usual due to the 4th of July holiday, although active investors had to wade through ongoing news of a “trade war” between the U.S. and China; the release of Fed minutes from their latest policy meeting; and data from the June Employment Report.

 

Thursday, the Fed released the minutes from its June 12-13 policy meeting revealing officials are aware of the possibility that growing trade tensions could have a negative impact on future business sentiment and investment spending.  Friday brought a “not too hot, not too cold” “Goldilocks” employment report featuring solid nonfarm payrolls growth of +213,000 jobs coupled with a restrained 2.7% year-over-year gain in average hourly earnings that kept inflation and aggressive rate-hike worries at arms’ length.  Nevertheless, neither the Fed minutes nor the key jobs data had much of an impact on long-term interest rates, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note decreasing slightly for the week.

 

In housing news, CoreLogic reported Tuesday their Home Price Index (HPI) showed home prices increased by 1.1% in May and by 7.1% on a year-over-year basis.  May’s one-year appreciation of 7.1% was stronger than April’s reading of 6.9% and was the strongest number in four years.  Moving forward, CoreLogic is forecasting homes will appreciate 5.1% in the coming year which is slightly below their forecast of 5.3% last month.

 

The highest price gains in metro areas were seen in Denver, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.  CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft remarked “The lean supply of homes for sale is leading to higher sales prices and fewer days on market, and the supply shortage is more acute for entry-level homes.

 

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decrease in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell 0.5% during the week ended June 29, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 1.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 2.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity decreased to 37.2% from 37.6% of total applications from the prior week.  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 decreased to 4.79% from 4.84% with points decreasing to 0.41 from 0.42.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 14.1 basis points to close at $102.063 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 3.60 basis points to end at 2.824%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 185.07 points to close at 24,456.48.  The NASDAQ Composite Index advanced 178.09 points to close at 7,688.39.  The S&P 500 Index added 41.45 points to close at 2,759.82.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 1.06%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 11.37%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.22%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.65% from 4.66%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.13% from 4.11%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.99% from 4.00% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.37% from 4.38%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.59% from 4.69%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of July 9, 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 ($102.063, +14.1 bp) traded within a slightly wider 34.4 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 102.094 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.750 on Tuesday before closing the week at $102.063 on Friday.  Mortgage bonds traded mostly between resistance and support levels during a holiday-shortened week, but did manage to close just above nearest resistance located at $101.988 on Friday.  However, the bond is currently extremely “overbought” and will be susceptible to a slight pull-back or sideways trading this coming week.  With the stock market seemingly “shrugging off” the latest trade news with China on Friday, we could see bond prices consolidate leading to stable or very slightly higher mortgage rates this coming week.

 

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The stock market ended the week moderately lower on continuing trade tensions primarily between the U.S. and China.  The Energy Sector was a notable exception as oil prices reached new four-year highs following a lower than expected U.S. oil inventory report and news the U.S. State Department would seek to enact powerful sanctions on any countries that don’t cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported last Monday that U.S. officials were planning to block Chinese firms from investing in U.S. technology companies plus enacting new limits on U.S. technology exports to China.  Also on Tuesday, the president told a group of White House reporters the government would continue to rely on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in limiting Chinese investments in U.S. technology.  Blocking Chinese access to certain U.S. technologies is not only seen as a deterrent to intellectual property theft, but also appears to be a negotiating tool to craft a more favorable trade deal with China.

 

In housing news, the Commerce Department reported last Monday that New Home Sales remained robust for the month of May, selling at a 6.7% pace higher than in April and 14.1% higher year-over-year for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000.  The median sales price fell 3.3% year-over-year to $313,000 with the average sales price declining 2.6% to $378,400.  Based on the current sales rate, new home inventory declined to a 5.2 months’ supply – down from April’s 5.5 month supply and 5.4 months’ supply from a year ago.  Sales in the Southern Region led the way with 17.9% sales growth with the other regions showing flat to negative sales growth.  The Western Region was lower by 8.7%; the Midwest was flat at 0.0%; and the Northeast was 10% lower.

 

Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported their Pending Home Sales Index fell for the fifth straight month on an annualized basis by 0.5% in May.  NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun commented “Pending home sales underperformed once again in May …coming in at the second lowest level over the past year.  Realtors® in most of the country continue to describe their markets as highly competitive and fast moving, but without enough new and existing inventories for sale, activity has essentially stalled.”  Yun is now forecasting sales for existing homes to decrease 0.4% to 5.49 million in 2018 (down from 5.51 million in 2017) with the national median existing-home price expected to increase around 5.0%.

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decrease in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell 4.9% during the week ended June 22, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 6.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 4.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 37.6% from 36.8% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.5% from 7.0% 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 4.84% from 4.83% with points decreasing to 0.42 from 0.48.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 18.8 basis points to close at $101.922 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 4.04 basis points to end at 2.8600%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 309.48 points to close at 24,271.41.  The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 182.52 points to close at 7,510.30.  The S&P 500 Index dropped 36.51 points to close at 2,718.37.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 1.81%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 8.79%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 1.67%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.66% from 4.70%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.11% from 4.15%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 4.00% from 3.99% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.42%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.69% from 4.73%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of July 2, 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 ($101.922, +18.8 bp) traded within a wider 31.3 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 102.016 on Thursday and a weekly intraday low of $101.703 on Monday before closing the week at $101.922 on Friday.

Mortgage bonds traded in the opposite direction of the stock market, rising into a dual band of overhead resistance at the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level ($101.988) and the 100-day moving average ($102.023).  A new buy signal showed last Wednesday from a positive stochastic crossover, but it appears it wasn’t strong enough to push bond prices above resistance.

 

Therefore, we could see some consolidation between the identified resistance and support levels ahead of this coming week’s significant economic news headlined by Friday’s Employment Report.  If the jobs numbers are as or better than expected we could see the stock market rebound and bond prices slip lower.  On the other hand, if the economic news is worse than forecast or trade talk becomes more antagonistic and the stock market continues to stumble, bond prices could continue to improve along with mortgage rates.

 

 

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Although the Nasdaq Composite Index set a new all-time high last Wednesday, the three major stock indexes finished the week lower amid escalating trade tensions primarily between the U.S. and China and the U.S. and the European Union.  The Trump Administration wants to level the playing field when it comes to trade and tariffs by negotiating better deals to protect American workers and the economy.  U.S. tariffs are among the lowest in the world and in our nation’s history.  U.S. trade policy has long favored lower tariffs and fewer restrictions on the movement of goods and services across international borders while our trading partners have been more restrictive.  The U.S. is currently running the following trade deficits:

 

China – $636 billion traded with a $375 billion deficit.

Mexico – $557 billion traded with a $71 billion deficit.

Japan – $204 billion traded with a $69 billion deficit.

Germany – $171 billion traded with a $65 billion deficit.

Canada – $582 billion traded with an $18 billion deficit.

 

In response to all of the tariff and trade war talk, longer-term bond yields slipped marginally lower resulting in relatively stable mortgage rates.

 

There were several housing-related reports released this past week.  Last Monday, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (NAHB) measuring home builder sentiment was reported to have slipped two points to 68 in June.  A reading above 50 is considered to indicate positive sentiment.

 

Yet, June’s decline was attributed to soaring lumber prices that have added almost $9,000 to the average price of a new single-family home since January 2017.  Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, commented “Improved economic growth, continued job creation and solid housing demand should spur additional single-family construction in the months ahead.  However, builders do need access to lumber and other construction materials at reasonable costs in order to provide homes at competitive price points, particularly for the entry-level market where inventory is most needed.”

 

 

Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported Housing Starts increased 5.0% month-over-month in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.350 million, exceeding the consensus forecast of 1.323 million.  However, Building Permits declined 4.6% to 1.301 million falling below the consensus estimate of 1.343 million.  Permits are a leading indicator of housing market strength and were lower in May for both single-family units (-2.2%) and multi-unit dwellings (-8.8%).  This suggests we may see some weakness in the June Housing Starts report.

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Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors reported sales of Existing Homes declined 0.4% month-over-month in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million.  This was slightly below the consensus forecast of 5.55 million.  The median existing home price for all housing types jumped 4.9% to an all-time high of $264,800 – the 75th straight month of year-over-year gains.  Existing home inventory for sale at the end of May rose 2.8% to 1.85 million, but this is 6.1% lower than the same period a year ago.  Unsold inventory is currently at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales rate compared to a usual 6.0-month supply associated with a more balanced market.  The song remains the same…limited home inventory coupled with rising prices and mortgage rates is hampering affordability, especially for first-time home buyers.

 

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed an increase in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) rose 5.1% during the week ended June 15, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 4.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index increased by 6.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 36.8% from 35.6% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.0% from 6.8% of total applications.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance remained unchanged at 4.83% with points decreasing to 0.48 from 0.53.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 9.3 basis points to close at $101.734 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.36 basis points to end at 2.9004%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 509.59 points to close at 24,580.89.  The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 53.56 points to close at 7,692.82.  The S&P 500 Index dropped 24.78 points to close at 2,754.88.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 0.56%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 11.44%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.04%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.70% from 4.65%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.15% from 4.11%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.99% from 3.95% while the FHA 30-year rate rose to 4.42% from 4.38%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.73% from 4.68%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 25, 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 ($101.734, +9.3 bp) traded within a far narrower 28.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.859 on Tuesday and a weekly intraday low of $101.578 on Thursday before closing the week at $101.734 on Friday.

 

The bond traded along a convergence between the 25-day and 50-day moving averages (MAs).  These MAs act as both short-term support and resistance.  Should the 25-day MA cross above the 50-day MA, it would signal market strength and a buy signal likely resulting in a slight improvement in mortgage rates.  However, technical resistance is also found at the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level at $101.988 so any upward move will have to contend with this layer of resistance plus that from the 100-day MA at $102.087.  These levels may temper any upward move resulting in stable rates.

 

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In addition to some generally positive economic news, there were three major events affecting the financial markets this past week.  There was an historic initial summit between the U.S. and North Korea over denuclearizing the Korean peninsula; a 25 basis point rate hike by the Fed; and further threats of a trade war between China and the U.S.  The three major stock indexes ended “mixed” for the week after the Dow Jones Industrials slid lower on Friday erasing its weekly gains.  The Nasdaq Composite Index managed to set a new record high during the week before falling back on Friday while the S&P 500 ended minimally higher.

 

The stock and bond markets reacted somewhat negatively to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.  Fed officials decided to raise the federal funds rate by another 0.25% as widely expected, but the markets retreated after policymakers provided a more hawkish view for future rate hikes with greater expectations for a total of four rate hikes in 2018, rather than three.

 

Tuesday, the Labor Department reported consumer inflation in May rose 0.2% and had reached 2.8% on a year-over-year basis, its highest level since 2011.  However, most of the increase in inflation is attributed to the rise in oil prices, and core inflation (excluding food and energy costs) remained close to the Fed’s target of 2%.  Thursday, Retail Sales provided an upside surprise with retail sales excluding automobiles increasing 0.9% in May versus expectations for a 0.5% gain.  Friday, the Trump administration declared it would follow through with an earlier warning to implement tariffs on imports of $50 billion worth of goods from China in response to intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.  China quickly responded with proposed tariffs on

$50 billion worth of U.S. goods including beef, cars, poultry, and tobacco.  Hopefully, these tariff announcements are nothing more than strategizing for a negotiated solution that will avoid a full-blown trade war that would end with negative consequences for the world’s two largest economies.

 

There were two mortgage-related reports released this past week.  Tuesday, CoreLogic released its monthly Loan Performance Insights Report for March 2018.  The report showed the number of mortgage loans 30 days or more past due declined from 4.8% to 4.3%.  The serious delinquency rate, defined as those loans 90 days or more past due, dropped to 1.9% in March, the lowest delinquency rate for the month of March since 2007 when it was 1.5%.  The serious delinquency rate a year ago for March was 2.1%.

 

The foreclosure inventory rate, a measure of the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process, was 0.6% for March – a level that has been holding since August 2017 and the lowest level since June 2007.  Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, remarked

“Unemployment and lack of home equity are two factors that can lead to borrowers defaulting on their mortgages.  Unemployment is at the lowest level in 18 years, and for the first quarter, the CoreLogic Equity Report revealed record levels of home equity growth with equity per owner up $16,300 on average for the year ending March 2018.”  This is certainly good news for the housing industry.

 

 

Wednesday, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed a decrease in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell 1.5% during the week ended June 8, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index declined 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index also decreased by 2.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 35.6% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.8% from 7.1% 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 4.83% from 4.75% with points increasing to 0.53 from 0.46.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 4.7 basis points to close at $101.641 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.6 basis points to end at 2.924%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 226.05 points to close at 25,090.48.  The NASDAQ Composite Index gained 100.87 points to close at 7,746.38.  The S&P 500 Index added 0.63 of one point to close at 2,779.66.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 1.50%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 12.21%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.96%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.65% from 4.68%; the 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 4.11%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.95% from 3.94% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.42%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.68% from 4.70%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 18, 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 ($101.641, +4.7 bp) traded within a wider 53.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.797 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.266 on Wednesday before closing the week at $101.641 on Friday.

 

The bond fell to its secondary support level at $101.234 during the first half of the week before bouncing and moving higher just above primary short-term support at $101.586 by the end of the week.  There was a new buy signal on Thursday from a slow stochastic crossover plus the bond is neither overbought nor oversold so we should see prices rise into overhead resistance levels this coming week.  If the bond is able to break above overhead resistance, it should lead to stable to slightly lower mortgage rates in the coming week.

 

 

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The major stock market indexes made a solid advance during the week amid strong jobs and economic data resulting in lower bond prices and rising yields.  Tuesday, the ISM Non-manufacturing Index showed a greater than forecast expansion in the services sector with a reading of 58.6 in May from 56.8 in April.  This increase matched the rise in the ISM Manufacturing Index for May, suggesting second quarter GDP growth will show a noticeable increase over GDP growth in the first quarter.

 

Also on Tuesday, the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed there were 6.698 million job openings available in April with only 6.4 million available workers to fill them.  This is the second month in a row where there were more job vacancies than available hires, a phenomenon the American economy has never experienced before until March and April of this year.  Although this situation should create a demand for higher wages, average hourly earnings only increased 2.7% annualized in May, up one-tenth of a point from April.  However, you can bet the Fed will be keeping a close eye on wage growth going forward, and there is no doubt that they will raise interest rates for the second time this year when they announce their rate-hike decision this Wednesday.

 

There was one housing related report released this past week.  Tuesday, CoreLogic reported their latest Home Price Index (HPI) and Forecast for April 2018 showing home prices increased by 1.2% month-over-month in April and by 6.9% year-over-year from April 2017.

 

CoreLogic is forecasting their national HPI will continue to increase 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from April 2018 to April 2019 and will rise another 0.2% for May 2018.  Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic Chief Economist, remarked “The best antidote for rising home prices is additional supply.  New construction has failed to keep up with and meet new housing growth or replace existing inventory.  More construction of for-sale and rental housing will alleviate housing cost pressures.”

 

Analyzing home values in the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on housing inventory indicated 40% of metropolitan areas had an overvalued housing market, 28% were undervalued, and 32% were considered at value as of April 2018.  When evaluating only the top 50 markets, 52% were overvalued, 14% were undervalued and 34% were at-value.

 

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey showed an increase in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) increased 4.1% during the week ended June 1, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 4.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index also increased by 4.0% from a week earlier.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 35.6% from 35.3% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 7.1% 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 4.75% from 4.84% with points decreasing to 0.46 from 0.47.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond lost 34.4 basis points to close at $101.594 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 4.8 basis points to end at 2.950%.  The three major stock indexes advanced during the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 681.32 points to close at 25,316.53.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 91.18 points to close at 7,645.51.  The S&P 500 Index added 44.41 points to close at 2,779.03.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 2.42%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 10.75%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 3.94%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate increased to 4.68% from 4.60%; the 15-year mortgage rate rose to 4.11% from 4.04%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.94% from 3.93% while the FHA 30-year rate climbed to 4.42% from 4.38%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.70% from 4.66%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 11, 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 ($101.594, -34.4 bp) traded within a narrower 42.2 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.938 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $101.516 on Thursday before closing the week at $101.594 on Friday.

 

The bond fell from its position sitting on the 50-day moving average (MA) and continued to slide lower during the week to end just below the 25-day MA.  Technically, the last sell signal from May 31 is still in effect and since the bond is still not “oversold,” there is some continuing risk for further mortgage bond price erosion this week.  A continuing price move toward the next support level will result in a slight increase in mortgage rates in the coming week.

 

 

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The major stock market indexes were “mixed” for the week with the Dow Jones Industrial Average modestly lower while the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 Indexes posted moderate gains.  Early in the holiday-shortened week, investors had to navigate political unrest in Italy and Spain as well as news of U.S. imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, the European Union, and Mexico that sent stock prices lower and bond prices higher.  On Tuesday, the turmoil in Italy triggered such a demand for safe-haven securities that a rally in U.S. Treasuries sent the 10-year Treasury note’s yield to its largest one-day decline since June 2016 when Great Britain voted to leave the European Union.

 

However, the stock market bounced back on Friday following news that the summit with North Korea is back on as originally scheduled for June 12, and on a strong Employment Situation report for May.  The Employment Report showed a better than forecast increase in nonfarm payrolls (+223,000) and a lower than expected unemployment rate of 3.8%, an 18-year low.  Average hourly earnings matched expectations showing only moderate wage inflation with a month-over-month increase of 0.3%.

 

There were a couple of housing related reports released this past week.  Thursday, the National Association of Realtors released their Pending Home Sales Index data for April.  This forward-looking indicator based on contract signings showed an unexpected 1.3% decline to 106.4 in April from an upwardly revised 107.8 in March.  The Index was lower on an annualized basis (by 2.1%) for the fourth straight month.

 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, had this to say about the report: “Pending sales slipped in April and continued to stay within the same narrow range with little signs of breaking out… the underlying sales data, reveals that the demand for buying a home is very robust.  Listings are typically going under contract in under a month, and instances of multiple offers are increasingly common and pushing prices higher…For now, the economy is very healthy, job growth is holding steady and wages are slowly rising.  However, it all comes down to overall supply.  If more new and existing homes are listed for sale, it would allow home prices to moderate enough to stave off inflationary pressures and higher rates.”

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey continued to show a drop in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.9% during the week ended May 25, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index fell 2.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased by 5.0% to its lowest level since December 2000.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 35.3% from 35.7% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.7% from 6.8% 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 4.84% from 4.86% with points decreasing to 0.47 from 0.52.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 7.9 basis points to close at $101.938 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 2.9 basis points to end at 2.902%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 117.88 points to close at 24,635.21.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 120.48 points to close at 7,554.33.  The S&P 500 Index gained 13.29 points to close at 2,734.62.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 0.34%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 9.43%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 2.28%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.60% from 4.61%; the 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 4.04%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.93% from 3.95% while the FHA 30-year rate fell to 4.38% from 4.40%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.66% from 4.65%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of June 4, 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 ($101.938, +7.9 bp) traded within a narrower 75.0 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 102.578 on Tuesday and a weekly intraday low of $101.828 on Friday before closing the week at $101.938 on Friday.  After moving above resistance at the 50-day moving average (MA) and running into the 100-day MA on Tuesday, the bond traded back to the 50-day MA by Friday’s close.  This action resulted in a new sell signal from a negative stochastic crossover from an “overbought” position.  As a result, we could see a move down toward the 25-day MA resulting in lower bond prices and slightly higher mortgage rates.

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The major stock market indexes managed to grind out some marginal gains as investors reflected on a torrent of uncertain geopolitical news centered on U.S.-China trade negotiations and the U.S.-North Korea summit “canceled” last Thursday by President Trump.  Still, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stated a “pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place.”  This uncertainty coupled with a “dovish” set of Federal Reserve minutes from the May FOMC meeting increased demand for “safe-haven” assets such as Treasuries and mortgage bonds to drive bond yields noticeably lower for the week.

 

The FOMC minutes suggested there will be a rate hike at the June Fed meeting, as widely expected, but also implied the Fed may not be as aggressive with its pace of future rate hikes as previously thought.  The minutes indicated Fed officials would be willing to let inflation run temporarily above their stated 2.0% target and this took some pressure off of the bond market.  A sharp sell-off in crude oil prices was also a contributing factor as reports surfaced that Russia and Saudi Arabia would soon boost oil production in response to significantly lower production in Venezuela, a country with the highest known oil reserves in the world, but whose economy is in shambles.

 

There were several housing related reports released this past week.  The Commerce Department reported last Wednesday that purchases of newly built single-family homes fell 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 662,000 in April.  However, economists had forecast a larger 2.2% drop.  Housing market inventory remains extremely tight, helping to drive up home prices. The average new home sales price climbed to $407,300 in April, the highest price since records have been kept beginning in 1963.  At the current sales pace, there was a 5.4-month supply of new homes on the market by the end of March.

Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported Existing Home Sales fell 2.5% month-over-month in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million.  This was below the consensus forecast of 5.57 million and lower than the 5.60 million in March.  Median prices of existing homes for sale for all housing types increased 5.3% to $257,900 while those for existing single-family homes increased 5.5% from a year ago to $259,900.  While the inventory of homes for sale at the end of April increased 9.8% to 1.80 million, this is still 6.3% lower than the same period a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold existing home inventory is only at a 4.0-month supply compared to the more normal 6.0-month supply characteristic of a more balanced market.

 

From the mortgage industry, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey continued to show a decline in mortgage applications.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased 2.6% during the week ended May 18, 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 December 2000.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity fell to 35.7% from 35.9% of total applications from the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.8% 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 4.86%, its highest level since April 2011, from 4.77% with points increasing to 0.52.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond gained 59.3 basis points to close at $101.859 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 12.9 basis points to end at 2.931%.  The three major stock indexes ended modestly higher for the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38.00 points to close at 24,753.09.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 79.51 points to close at 7,433.85.  The S&P 500 Index rose 8.36 points to close at 2,721.33.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 0.14%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has added 7.68%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 1.78%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate decreased to 4.61% from 4.78%; the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 4.04% from 4.21%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate decreased to 3.95% from 4.00% while the FHA 30-year rate dropped to 4.40% from 4.50%.  Jumbo 30-year rates decreased to 4.65% from 4.80%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of May 28, 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 ($101.859, +59.3 bp) traded within a narrower 76.6 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of 101.891 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.125 on Monday and Tuesday before closing the week at $101.859 on Friday.  As predicted in last week’s newsletter, the bond did manage to trade higher during the week to set up a test of overhead resistance now located at the 50-day moving average and the 76.4% Fibonacci retracement level.

 

Now approaching “Overbought” levels, it will be difficult from a technical perspective for the bond to pass this test and break above this formidable layer of resistance, and we could see bond prices turned away from the 50-day moving average resulting in slightly worse mortgage rates.  However, there is a plethora of potential market-moving economic news headed our way this week headlined by the May employment report.  Should the week’s economic data disappoint stock investors, we could see bond prices improve and break above resistance resulting in an improvement in rates.

 

 

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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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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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