For the week of May 20, 2013 – Vol. 11, Issue 20

>> Texas Mortgage Market Update 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK… “Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” –Nicholas Murray Butler, American diplomat and educator

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE… It definitely takes guts to remain optimistic in the face of some of the housing data coming at us these days. Last week, for example, we were greeted with a 16.5% drop in Housing Starts for April. It helps to dig into these reports. The dip was mostly due to multi-family starts, which are very volatile month to month, and were down 38.9%. Turns out, single-family starts were off just 2.1%. Taking a long-term view helps even more. Starts overall are up 13.1% versus a year ago, with single-family starts up a healthy 20.8%. So there.

It didn’t take any effort at all to stay optimistic in the face of the April Building Permits report. New building permits rose 14.3% during the month to a 1.02 million annual rate. Permits for single-family homes are now up 27.5% over a year ago, and multi-family permits are up a whopping 50.9%. An analysis of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data revealed that 64% of building permits issued in the first quarter of this year were for single-family homes. And they were at the highest level since Q1 of 2008.

BUSINESS TIP OF THE WEEK… Use social media to give something back. Shining the light on others doing good in the community attracts attention to yourself in the best way possible.

>> Review of Last Week

BULL-IEVE IT!… Given the week’s mostly disappointing economic data, it was hard to believe the bulls prevailed on Wall Street again, pushing stocks to their fourth weekly gain in a row with the Dow and the S&P 500 indexes setting new records. To be fair, the bulls did have some decent reports on which to base their enthusiasm. April Retail Sales, Building Permits, and Leading Economic Indicators all surprised to the upside. The Michigan Consumer Sentiment index for May also handily beat estimates.

However, a plethora of indicators headed to the downside, starting with weak readings for April Industrial Production and the New York Empire Manufacturing Index for May. The disappointing economic news continued with higher than expected Initial Unemployment Claims, a dip in Housing Starts, and a lower than expected Philadelphia Fed Index of manufacturing for that region. But the CPI reading for April showed that consumer price inflation is staying well under control.

The week ended with the Dow up 1.6%, to 15354; the S&P 500 up 2.1%, to 1667; and the Nasdaq up 1.8%, to 3499.

As equity markets hit new all-time highs, bonds came under considerable selling pressure and prices slid. The FNMA 3.5% bond we watch ended the week down .14, at $105.04. National average mortgage rates rose again in Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, although they remain well below levels of a year ago. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported purchase loan demand off for the week but still up 10% from a year ago.

DID YOU KNOW?… A bond is a debt instrument issued for a period of more than one year with the purpose of raising capital by borrowing. An investor who buys a bond becomes a creditor of the issuer but does not gain any ownership rights, as in the case of stocks.

>> This Week’s Forecast

HOME SALES GAIN, DURABLE GOODS RECOVER, FED CHITCHAT… Additional data on the housing recovery comes in this week and more progress is expected for April. Existing Home Sales are forecast to inch higher to just below a 5 million unit annual rate. New Home Sales should also continue edging up farther into 400K territory.

Wednesday’s FOMC Minutes from the Fed’s May 1 meeting will spark interest, as we see whether the discussion sheds any more light on the central bank’s view of the economy. The week ends with April Durable Goods, predicted to bounce back into positive territory, showing a healthier market for long-term purchases.

>> 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 May 20 – May 24

 Date Time (ET) Release For Consensus Prior Impact
May 22
10:00 Existing Home Sales Apr 4.98M 4.92M Moderate
May 22
10:30 Crude Inventories 5/18 NA –0.624M Moderate
May 22
14:00 FOMC Minutes 5/1 NA NA HIGH
May 23
08:30 Initial Unemployment Claims 5/18 348K 360K Moderate
May 23
08:30 Continuing Unemployment Claims 5/11 3.005M 3.009M Moderate
May 23
10:00 New Home Sales Apr 425K 417K Moderate
May 24
08:30 Durable Goods Orders Apr 1.6% –6.9% Moderate

>> Federal Reserve Watch

Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… Nothing happened last week to change the prevailing view of economists that the Fed will keep the Funds Rate at exceptionally low levels at least until the last three months of this 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
Jun 19 0%–0.25%
Jul 31 0%–0.25%
Sep 18 0%–0.25%

Probability of change from current policy:

After FOMC meeting on: Consensus
Jun 19      <1%
Jul 31      <1%
Sep 18      <1%