Mortgage Rate & Market Review – October 23, 2017

Oct 23, 2017

The stock market continued to advance into new record-high territory last week on better than expected third quarter corporate earnings reports.  The Dow Jones Industrials in particular benefited from earnings reports from IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and UnitedHealth that helped send the Dow over 23,000.  Several equity market analysts with a macro view are predicting the stock market will continue to rise with the Dow eventually reaching the 50,000 mark.

 

Positive economic data during the week and passage of a budget resolution by Congress paving the way for a tax reform package that would further stimulate economic growth through tax cuts also helped stocks to move higher while sending bond prices lower and Treasury yields higher.

Manufacturing remained strong with better than forecast readings from the New York Empire State Manufacturing Index (30.2 vs. 21.0 expected) and the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index (27.9 vs. 20.0 expected).  Furthermore, weekly jobless claims fell to their lowest level since 1973, when the labor force was roughly 60% of its current size.

 

In housing, the Commerce Department reported Housing Starts for September fell to a one-year low seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.127 million while economists had estimated a rate of 1.160 million.  Housing Starts were negatively impacted by the disrupting effects to construction of single-family homes in the South by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Housing Starts in the Southern Region declined by 15.3% on a month-over-month basis.  Meanwhile, Building Permits declined 4.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.215 million, below the consensus forecast of 1.225 million.  Permits for building multi-family units led the decline with a 16.1% decrease.

A chart from Doug Short, Vice President of Research at Advisor Perspectives, that smooths out monthly volatility in Housing Permits and Starts as a percent of the population provides a longer-term view of the trends in Starts and Permits.

 

 

On Friday, The National Association of Realtors reported Existing Home Sales unexpectedly increased 0.7% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million units.  Economists had forecast a more modest rate of 5.29 million units.  Available inventory remains limited and is 6.4% lower than the same period a year ago with only a 4.2 month supply at the current sales rate.  Coupled with an increase of 4.2% in the median existing home prices to $245,100 for all housing types and $246,800 in single-family home prices, affordability continues to be a concern and will inhibit future sales.  Indeed, first-time buyers fell to 29% of sales in September from 31% in August, comprising this group’s lowest portion of existing home sales since September 2015.

As for mortgage data, mortgage application volume increased during the week ending October 13.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) rose by 3.6%.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 4.0% from the prior week while the Refinance Index increased 3.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity decreased to 48.6% of total applications from 49.0% in the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 6.1% of total applications from 6.6%.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance decreased to 4.14% from 4.16% with points remaining unchanged at 0.44.

 

For the week, the FNMA 3.5% coupon bond lost 50.0 basis points to close at $102.672.  The 10-year Treasury yield increased 10.79 basis points to end at 2.3827%.  The major stock indexes ended the week higher.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 456.91 points to close at 23,328.63.  The NASDAQ Composite Index increased 23.25 points to close at 6,629.05 and the S&P 500 Index advanced 22.04 points to close at 2,575.21.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 18.04%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has advanced 23.15%, and the S&P 500 Index has added 15.02%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 3.98% from 3.93%; the 15-year mortgage rate increased to 3.28% from 3.23%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate rose to 3.22% from 3.19% and the FHA 30-year rate increased to 3.60% from 3.50%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.17% from 4.14%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of October 23, 2017

 

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

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 3.5% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 3.5% coupon bond ($102.67, -50.0 bp) traded within a 53.1 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of $103.125 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $102.594 on Friday before closing the week at $102.67 on Friday.

 

An increase in the likelihood of real tax reform passing Congress sent stock prices higher and bond prices lower.  Mortgage bond prices were not immune with the FNMA 30-year 3.5% coupon bond falling below support levels including the key 200-day moving average – a bearish event.  A new sell signal on Wednesday from a negative stochastic crossover led to the downward breach of the 200-day moving average on Friday.  The next support levels are found at $102.50 and $102.30 while the aforementioned 200-day moving average defines nearest overhead resistance.  The overall trend is down, and if bond cannot reclaim the 200-day moving average, it is likely mortgage rates will be pressured slightly higher in the coming week.

 

 

 

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