Austin Mortgage Market Update – For the week of August 23, 2010

For the week of August 23, 2010 – Vol. 8, Issue 34
>> Austin Mortgage Market Update

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE Housing starts were UP 1.7% for July to a 546,000 annual pace, but this was below expectations and all the gain came from a big boost in multi-family starts. Single-family starts were off 4.2%, declining for the third straight month. Looking at the market further out, we saw new building permits down 3.1% for July to a 565,000 annual rate.

There is no denying that these reports reflect a softness in the home building market. But some experts see the data as part of a temporary housing market hangover following the expiration of the tax credits. You may remember how the government cash-for-clunkers program pushed a ton of auto sales into July and August last year. This resulted in a dip in sales immediately afterwards. But that was followed by a pretty nice recovery, with auto sales now up 20% from the first half of 2009. Stay tuned for housing.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey showed purchase loan applications down from the week before, but refinance applications soared, equaling their May 2009 level. Austin mortgage rates, of course, continue at historically low levels.

>> Review of Last Week

NOT SO BAD… Really???!!! Listening to the pundits who were fixated on last week’s negative economic news, you might think things were awful. But as usual, the situation actually wasn’t so bad, with the markets closing Friday with mixed results. The Dow and the S&P 500 dropped for the week, but far less than the week before. And the third major index, the Nasdaq, was UP 0.3%, so there are plenty of investors not paying that much attention to fretful pundits.

Make no mistake, the week did have its disappointments. The housing starts and building permits covered above were not cheered on Wall Street. Then, initial weekly jobless claims came in at 500,000, a bit over estimates and higher than they’ve been for a while. On top of that, the Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing was down for the month, instead of up as expected, indicating a souring of the outlook in that region.

But wait just a minute. Mortgage refinancings took off, helping consumers and lenders. The Empire State index showed manufacturing in the New York region UP to 7.1 in August from 5.1 in July and suggesting more rapid growth to come. July Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization moved up nicely. Corporations continued to deliver strong profits and we even had renewed M&A action, with Intel buying McAfee for a cool $7.7 billion in cash. None of these are bad economic signs.

Yet for the week, the Dow ended down 0.9%, to 10213.62; the S&P 500 was down 0.7%, to 1071.69; but the Nasdaq was UP 0.3%, to 2179.76.

The bond market had a generally decent time of it, with the less encouraging economic data bringing in safe haven investors. Treasuries did well, while the FNMA 30-year 4.0% bond we watch ended down 13 basis points on Friday, closing at $102.15. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates showed national average rates at historically low levels for yet another week. 

>> This Week’s Forecast

JULY HOME SALES, ANOTHER LOOK AT Q2 GDP…This is the week for July housing. Tuesday’s Existing Home Sales are expected to be down from June, coming off the end of the home buyer tax credits. But Wednesday’s July New Home Sales could be a tick above June. Friday we get the Q2 GDP Second Estimate. This should reflect the economic soft patch we’re going through, as growth is expected to slow to the 1.5% territory.

>> The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.

Economic Calendar for the Week of August 23 – August 27

Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact
Tu

Aug 24

10:00 Existing Home Sales Jul 4.78M 5.37M Moderate
W

Aug 25

08:30 Durable Goods Orders Jul 2.5% –1.2% Moderate
W

Aug 25

10:00 New Home Sales Jul 339K 330K Moderate
W

Aug 25

10:30 Crude Inventories 8/21 NA –0.818M Moderate
Th

Aug 26

08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 8/21 485K 500K Moderate
Th

Aug 26

08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 8/14 4.515M 4.478M Moderate
F

Aug 27

08:30 GDP – Second Estimate Q2 1.4% 2.4% Moderate
F

Aug 27

08:30 GDP Deflator – Second Estimate Q2 1.8% 1.8% Moderate
F

Aug 27

09:55 Univ. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment – Final Aug 69.4 69.6 Moderate

>> Federal Reserve Watch

Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months Economists haven’t changed their belief that the Fed meant what it said in its pledge to keep rates “exceptionally low” for an “extended period.” That period is now seen to extend well into next year. Note: In the lower chart, a 1% probability of change is a 99% certainty the rate will stay the same.

Current Fed Funds Rate: 0%–0.25%

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 21 0%–0.25%
Nov 3 0%–0.25%
Dec 14 0%–0.25%

Probability of change from current policy:

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Sep 21 <1%
Nov 3 <1%
Dec 14 <1%

About Max Leaman Austin Mortgage

GREAT RATES, LOW FEES, CLOSE ON TIME™ ---- 2012 Ranked #1 Austin Residential Mortgage Lender (Austin Business Journal) 2010, 2011 & 2012 Five Star Professional (Texas Monthly) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 PrimeLending Chairman's Circle Award 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Scotsman Guide Top Originator (Top 200 Mortgage Professionals in U.S.A.) Better Business Bureau "A+ Rating" National Lender Rankings (Scotsman Guide): Top Purchase Volume (No. 10) Most Loans Closed (No. 32) Top Dollar Volume (No. 88)

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