Below is Tricia Morris’ overview of
|For the week of Jan 18, 2010 — Vol. 8, Issue 3
|Last Week in Review|
|“WHAT DO WE LIVE FOR, IF IT IS NOT TO MAKE LIFE LESS DIFFICULT FOR EACH OTHER?” George Eliot. The current crisis in Haiti certainly puts this sentiment into perspective. For information on how you can help, see the View article below.
Last week it was reported that the inflation measuring Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December came in lower than expected. Overall, CPI for all of 2009 was fairly tame. But as you can see in the chart below, the closely watched Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy, rose to 1.8% year-over-year in December after hitting a multi-year low of 1.4% in August.
Chart: Core Consumer Price Index
So what does this mean for Bonds and home loan rates?
Clearly, inflation is tame at the moment…but slowly trending higher. The Fed will be watching this data very carefully in the coming months, as they seek to time perfectly the exit from what is essentially a zero rate environment. The Fed will likely err on the side of keeping the Fed Funds Rate lower for longer than they perhaps should, in order to avoid a “double dip” recession…but that will likely lead to more inflation down the road. Remember, Bonds and home loan rates hate inflation – so home loan rates are likely to trend higher as more inflation creeps into the economy.
Speaking of the Fed, they stepped up their Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) buying in the latest week, purchasing $14B in MBS, whereas the most recent prior purchases were around $9.5B. The Fed now has $113B left of their $1.25T allotted commitment, with the buying program set to wrap up on March 31st. The Fed’s purchases have helped home loan rates stay historically low – and although there has been some buzz about an extension of the program, it seems unlikely that will come to fruition. When the Fed purchases stop, home loan rates will be very susceptible to moving higher – so if we have not talked yet about your own home loan situation, or if you know of a friend, family member, neighbor or coworker who might like some advice, let’s be sure to connect very soon…time is of the essence.
The next Federal Reserve Policy Statement will be coming on January 27th, and they have gone out of their way to mention in the last several statements that the MBS buying program will not continue. Count on me to be listening closely when the Fed releases this next Statement, as this will help further gauge what home loan rates have in store.
In other news, Retail Sales for December came in well below expectations and were down from the 1.8% increase seen in November. While this suggests weakness in the Retail sector, it has to be taken with a grain of salt, as it is likely that frigid temperatures and snowy conditions throughout much of the country were contributing factors to the decline. Overall, 2009 was a very tough year for retail. Retail Sales for 2009 dropped 6.2% compared with 2008, which was the biggest decline on record, dating back to 1992.
There was some good news, however, on the manufacturing front, as the Empire State Manufacturing Index was reported above estimates, indicating manufacturing expansion in New York state and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
For the week overall Bonds were able to break above important technical levels, and home loan rates ended the week slightly better than where they began.
|Forecast for the Week|
|The markets will be closed on Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but plenty of news will follow later in the week. Wednesday brings more news from the inflation front, with the Producer Price Index (PPI) Report, which measures inflation at the wholesale level. Wednesday will also bring a read on the housing market, with the Housing Starts and Building Permits Report.
There’s also more manufacturing news ahead on Thursday with the Philadelphia Fed Report. Also in store for Thursday is another look at the weekly Initial Jobless Claims Report…so it’s sure to be an interesting week, with a variety of data for the markets to absorb.
Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.
As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates improved last week, largely due to tame inflation numbers and a decline in Stocks. In fact, Bonds were actually able to power through a tough technical “ceiling of resistance” at the 200-day Moving Average…but it remains to be seen if they will hold their gains. I’ll be watching closely to see if Bonds and home loan rates can build on their positive momentum in the coming week.
Chart: Fannie Mae 4.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Jan 15, 2010)
|The Mortgage Market View…|
|A Helping Hand for Haiti
The catastrophe in Haiti cries out for all of us to do whatever we can to help. But many of us aren’t sure exactly how to help or which organization to entrust with a donation.
To help you make sure your donation makes as big a difference as possible, consider donating to AmeriCares, which is one of the many fine organizations helping Haiti through disaster relief. AmeriCares is in the business of disaster relief and has an extensive network on the ground in Haiti, so your money will go to get supplies directly to those stricken instead of setting up infrastructure. You can learn more about them and donate at http://www.americares.org.
Obviously, the current economy presents challenges for many of us, but if you are able to help, your donation will go a long way. Whether it is through AmeriCares, or some other organization of your choice, any assistance you provide can help ease the suffering of those in need.
|The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar|
|Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.
Economic Calendar for the Week of January 18 – January 22