Nonfarm Payrolls were down only 11K, the Unemployment Rate fell to 10.0%, and last month’s job losses posting revisions lower by 79K set the table for a “Katie bar the door” bond selloff this morning. Initial reaction punished the 10 year note lower by over 1 point, taking the yield as high as 3.52% (right into good support I might add). Mortgage backs followed suit with worsening interest rates and pricing; 4.50%/4.625% off as much 24/32’s.
The economic reports before Thanksgiving were packed with housing market data and, guess what, they were all extremely positive! Monday saw Existing Home Sales UP 10.1% to an annual rate of 6.10 million, the highest since February 2007. Sales are now UP 20% in the past two months and UP 36% from their January lows. Even better, the supply of existing homes was down to just 7 months, with inventories down to 3.57 million, the lowest level in almost three years. This puts existing homes very close to the 6-month supply level of a healthy housing market. The Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index rose 0.3% in September. The index also showed its second consecutive quarterly increase, UP 3.1% for Q3, returning to August 2003 levels.
With stocks near unchanged and a basket of economic uncertainty, best to not throw caution to the wind
With stocks near unchanged and a basket of economic uncertainty, best to not throw caution to the wind. Bernanke's mandate for low interest rates well into the future, coupled with a staggering deficit, falling dollar, 3 trillion in health care costs on the docket, and taxes for both individuals and small business destine to rise in 2010 will create difficult challenges and unintended consequences. With the Fed policy a given, we expect to see a floor under the bond market, supporting both treasury and mortgage back security pricing. Buying sponsorship (upcoming auctions) and year end book closings will be the challenge (liquidity issues).
Since stocks are the game today, let’s talk the equities and your 401K. 10% plus unemployment and a weak U.S. dollar are ok short term but stock bearish in the long run. With this in mind, we still have the Fed and it’s never ending easy money program, very low inflation, and market risk that will support the bond/MBS market well into 2010. Blue chip, high quality companies are the only way to go in today’s stock market. As for mortgage pricing, it’s “steady as she goes ” into the new year.
Results of the auction were pretty good with 25 billion priced at 3.47% (no tail), 2.81 bid to cover (2.61 average), and 47.5% going to indirect bidders. Give it a grade of B. Trouble is, the market is feeling a bit of indigestion. The 10 year note was up 6/32’s prior to the auction but is now down 2/32’s. Mortgage backs have cut their gains in half, bringing a worsening price change close to reality. With the bond market closed tomorrow, expecting further gains (rally) is fool’s gold. Be careful out there.
Austin Mortgage Market Update - At the end of September, the supply of homes for sale was reported down 1.8% from the previous month in 27 major metropolitan areas. We all know the factors. Home prices are very affordable, mortgage rates and very favorable and first-time homebuyers are taking advantage of the $8,000 tax credit set to expire at the end of November, now just seven weeks away. The Mortgage Bankers Association saw loan applications for home purchases rise 13.2% last week, as the MBA's Purchase Index hit its highest level since last January. The average rate on 30-year fixed rate mortgage slid to 4.89% with an average 1.13 points (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio loans to borrowers with good credit. Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates put the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.87% with an average 0.7 point for 80% loan-to-value ratio loans to borrowers with good credit.