For the week of June 11, 2012 – Vol. 10, Issue 24
>> Austin Mortgage Market Update
QUOTE OF THE WEEK…“I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.” –David Livingstone, Scottish medical missionary and explorer
INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… Forward is where the housing recovery appears to be going, though some advances are bigger than others. According to a leading data aggregator, home prices rose in April for the second month in a row, UP 2.2% over March and UP 1.1% versus a year ago. Taking out distressed sales, prices were UP 2.6% for the month and UP 1.9% year over year. These price gains are at a rate not seen since late 2006 and better than 2010, when sales jumped thanks to the federal tax credit.
In April, among the 100 largest metros, only 44 saw price drops year over year, 10 fewer than in March. Even better, 6 of the 10 biggest metros reported home price increases. Analysts noted that home prices are responding to a restricted supply that they think will exist for some time to come. The supply of homes in current inventory is down to 6.5 months, a level we haven’t seen in more than five years!
>> Review of Last Week
FROM ONE EXTREME… The stock market rebounded from its worst day in 6 months to post its best week of the year. Go figure. The big push came Wednesday with a huge 287 point surge in the Dow, as investors scooped up the bargains and felt good about a Chinese interest rate cut they think will stimulate the world’s second largest economy. Investor optimism was further encouraged at the end of the week, when it seemed likely that troubled Spanish banks would be thrown a lifeline and a fiscal crisis in the Eurozone would be averted.
All was not upbeat, though. Productivity was revised down to a minus 0.9% annual rate for Q1, and is up only a measly 0.4% in the past year. We did have good news with the ISM non-manufacturing index up to a better than expected 53.7, still in expansion territory. Finally, Friday saw the U.S. Trade Deficit shrink by a slim 4.9% in April. It’s still $50.1 billion, but seeing it shrink is definitely preferable to watching it go in the opposite condition.
For the week, the Dow ended UP 3.6%, at 12554; the S&P 500 closed UP 3.7%, to 1326; and the Nasdaq ended UP 4.0%, to 2858.
Feeling better about China and Europe, investors flocked to riskier stocks leaving bond prices to fall under heavy selling pressure. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch finished the week down 0.81, at $104.30. But the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that national average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hit all-time lows for BOTH conforming and jumbo loan balances. Mortgage applications rose 1.3% for the week.
DID YOU KNOW?… Home ownership has great positive economic impact. One job is created for every two homes sold. And each home purchase generates up to $60,000 in economic activity over time.
>> This Week’s Forecast
THE DEFICIT, THE CONSUMER, THE INFLATION… Reports begin Tuesday with the Federal Budget expected to show an expanding deficit for the month, no surprise there. Other highlights include May Retail Sales, forecast down a tick, thanks to cautious consumers.
Better news is expected on the inflation front, with Wednesday’s May PPI showing wholesale prices dipping a bit overall, followed by Thursday’s May CPI indicating consumer prices down a bit and Core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy prices, well within the Fed’s target range.
>> 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 Jun 11 – Jun 15
>> Federal Reserve Watch
Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… Last week Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress the Fed would discuss a new round of quantitative easing at next week’s meeting. Expect the Funds Rate to stay super low. 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%
Probability of change from current policy: