|For the week of January 14, 2013 – Vol. 11, Issue 2|
>> Texas Mortgage Market Update
QUOTE OF THE WEEK… “It is wise to keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.”–Roger Babson, American entrepreneur and business theorist
INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… That’s a good thought as we watch the housing market, once doomed to failure, turn into a more successful enterprise. A national online real estate site surveyed more than 100 professional forecasters — economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. They see growing optimism in the housing market, expecting home prices to rise 3.1% in 2013, after ending 2012 UP more than 4.6%. The site’s chief economist commented, “An organic recovery in the housing market really took hold in the latter half of 2012.”
He added: “Record levels of affordability and an improving overall economic picture… have us well positioned for continued growth, albeit slightly slower, in 2013 and beyond.” Case-Shiller’s chief economist offered, “It is clear the housing recovery is gathering strength… that housing is now contributing to the economy.” Finally, in their latest forecast, Fannie Mae economists expect 2013 existing home sales UP 9.6%, new home sales UP 19.5%, and rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to stay near historical lows.
BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… Success breeds success. Spend time with other successful people. Review last year’s successes, then focus on repeating them. Ditch any negativity and seek out the positive.
>> Review of Last Week
GOOD VIBRATIONS… Good feelings left over from the prior week’s fiscal cliff settlement in Washington kept investors in a positive mood last week, as evidenced by all three major market indexes still heading up and the S&P 500 near a five-year high. It’s no secret that there will be more political fights coming over the spending cuts that didn’t happen and the raising of the debt ceiling, which present spending levels will soon be knocking on. For the moment, Wall Street is content to stay upbeat, hoping that earnings season will get 2013 off to a decent start.
Fourth quarter earnings reports will begin in earnest this week, but they started off quite nicely last Wednesday, when Alcoa disclosed top line revenues that beat estimates. Friday’s news revealed the trade deficit grew nearly 16% in November, but exports were up, just not as much as imports, so no one got too upset. Initial weekly unemployment claims were up by 4,000, still uncomfortably high at 371,000. But continuing claims dipped to 3.11 million, their lowest level since July 2008.
For the week, the Dow ended up 0.4%, at 13488; the S&P 500 was up 0.4%, at 1472; and the Nasdaq was up 0.8%, at 3126.
The good vibes around stocks weren’t quite strong enough to cause a mass exodus from the bond market. That safe haven continued to appeal, as Treasuries saw modest weekly gains. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch ended the week down just .02, at $106.03. Following the report of 155,000 new jobs in December, national average mortgage rates edged up slightly in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported applications for purchase loans UP 10% for the week.
DID YOU KNOW?… Earnings season is the period when a large percentage of corporations report the previous quarter’s earnings. It often moves markets up or down depending on overall results and future guidance given by individual companies.
>> This Week’s Forecast
RETAIL, INFLATION, MANUFACTURING, HOME BUILDING… This week provides us with a nice range of economic data that will paint a pretty clear picture of the economy. No surprises, as slow growth continues but, hey, it IS growth! December Retail Sales are expected up, not a holiday blowout, but a gain nonetheless. Inflation should stay under control, both wholesale PPI prices and, more importantly, the CPI prices we all pay.
Manufacturing is forecast to continue its crawl upward, with the NY Empire Index and the Philadelphia Fed Index both showing mild expansion in those regions. Thursday we’ll see how home builders are doing, with December Housing Starts and Building Permits predicted to keep moving up.
>> 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 Jan 14 – Jan 18
>> Federal Reserve Watch
Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… The Fed intends to keep the Funds Rate super low for quite a while, but some members want to end the bond buying program by the end of this year, which could send rates up. 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: