Last week’s economic news came from a variety of sources. Most significant was the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee statement after its meeting ended Wednesday. The statement indicated that the Fed saw moderate economic growth. FOMC did not taper its purchase of MBS and Treasury securities.
The FOMC statement announced the committee’s intention to closely monitor economic and financial developments ”in the coming months,” which suggested that the FOMC is taking a wait-and-see position on reducing its $85 billion monthly asset purchases.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
The Fed’s asset purchase program, also known as quantitative easing, was implanted in 2012 with a goal of stabilizing mortgage rates and other long-term interest rates.
The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales fell by 5.60 percent in September. Uncertainty over the FOMC’s decision concerning tapering its asset purchases during its September meeting and concerns over a then potential government shutdown.
These were noted as primary reasons for the drop in pending home sales, which are measured by signed real estate contracts. Pending Home Sales are used for estimating future closings and mortgage loan activity.
Tuesday’s economic reports included the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for August. Home prices increased by 12.80 percent year-over-year in August as compared to 12.30 percent year-over-year for August 2012. August’s reading shows a dampened pace of rising home prices.
The Conference Board, a research organization, reported that consumer confidence fell from a reading of 80.2 in September to 71.2 in October. A reading of 75.00 was expected, but consumer confidence crashed as the government shutdown and its consequences diminished consumer and investor confidence.
According to ADP, a payroll administration firm, private-sector payrolls came in well shy of the expected 150,000 new jobs with a reading of 130,000 jobs. October’s reading was also lower than September’s reading of 145,000 new jobs.
Weekly jobless claims brought good news; new jobless claims came in at 340,000 and fell by 10,000 new claims from the previous week’s 350,000 new jobless claims. Expectations had been for 335,000 new jobless claims.
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by three basis points to 4.10 percent, with discount points down from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.20 percent, with an uptick in discount points from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.
What‘s Coming Up
There is no housing or mortgage economic news scheduled this week other than Freddie Mac’s PMMS due on Thursday.
Reporting for this week includes Leading Economic Indicators, Weekly Jobless Claims, Non-farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate will be posted. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index will be released Friday.
This week’s economic reports are expected provide a general gauge of the economy and information about how consumers are responding to recent economic events and news.
Last week wasn’t kind to stock market investors, but weekly jobless claims fell to an unexpected low of 320,000 new jobless claims filed, the lowest level in nearly six years.
Here is a review of the major events of the week.
Monday: The federal budget for July shows an increase in its deficit to -$98 billion, a deficit increase of $28 billion over June’s figure of -$70 billion. The good news is that the deficit for the first 10 months of the fiscal year is $38 billion less than during the same period of the prior fiscal year.
Thursday: Thursday was a busy day for economic news. The weekly jobless claims report came in lower than expected with 320,000 new jobless claims filed. This was lower than the expected.
While this is a strong sign for the economy that would typically boost stock prices, the markets fell. Analysts cite a good news/bad news scenario in describing what happened. The good news was that jobless claims fell to a new low, but the bad news is that investors feared that this may give the Fed a signal to begin tapering its quantitative easing (QE) program.
The Fed is expected to begin tapering its monthly purchases of $85 billion in treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities as early as next month. The QE purchases are intended to help hold down long term interest rates including mortgage rates.
The fall in stock prices on Thursday and Friday suggested that fear of the Fed ending QE is more compelling than the lowest number of new jobless claims since October 2007.
Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage remained unchanged at 4.40 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point from 3.43 to 3.44 percent.
Discount points fell from 0.70 percent the prior week to 0.60 percent last week.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) rose from 3.19 to 3.23 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an alternative to higher fixed rates for borrowers seeking lower mortgage rates and payments.
Friday: Included Housing Starts for July, which came in at 896,000 as compared to expectations of 915, 00 0 and June’s figure of 846,000 housing starts. Building permits issued in July came in at 943,000, and surpassed June’s reading of 918,000 building permits.
Increasing home values, buyer demand and a short supply of available homes were seen as motivating factors for builders to construct more homes.
This week’s schedule of economic news is set to include the Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index on Tuesday. The FOMC minutes will be released on Wednesday along with Existing Home Sales.
Thursday will bring Weekly Jobless Claims, Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates and the FHFA home price index. Friday will finish the week with a New Home Sales report.
Last week’s news was relatively quiet with no data significant to the mortgage lending released until Wednesday, when the federal government announced a $138 billion budget deficit for May.
According to the U.S. Treasury this figure is 11 percent higher than for May of 2012, but the federal budget is expected to come in with less than a -$1 trillion deficit for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs from October to September.
The Treasury estimates that the 2013 budget deficit will come in at approximately -$642 billion, well below fiscal 2012′s deficit of -$1.1 trillion. The federal budget has been running deficits over -$1 trillion since 2008.
Employment Market Continues To Strengthen
On Thursday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report brought good news; jobless claims fell from the prior week’s 346,000 jobless claims to 334,000 jobless claims. This was also less than expectations of 350,000 jobless claims. As more workers gain steady employment, this will enable more would-be home buyers to become active buyers.
May Retail sales also showed slight improvement as they moved from 0.60 percent from April’s 0.10 percent.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average mortgage rate for a 30year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.91 percent to 3.98 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.03 percent to 3.10 percent with discount points holding at 0.70 percent.
What‘s Coming Up This Week
Next week’s economic news schedule has a number of reports due including Wednesday’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s press conference. This meeting and press conference are significant as any move by the Fed to reduce or cease its current quantitative easing (QE) program could cause mortgage rates to rise further.
Monday’s news includes the Home Builders Index for June. Tuesday brings the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May and the Core CPI, also for May. The indices measure prices paid by consumers for goods and services; the Core CPI eliminates the volatile food and energy sectors included in the CPI. Rising or falling consumer costs influence how much discretionary income consumers have for saving toward buying a home.
No news is scheduled for Wednesday other than the FOMC statement and press conference.
Thursday brings the Existing Home Sales Report, Weekly Jobs Report, Freddie Mac PMMS and Leading Indicators. These reports are expected to provide news about U.S. housing markets, mortgage rates and economic influences impacting consumers.
There is no economic news scheduled for Friday.
Last week’s economic reports provided a mixed bag of results. On Monday, the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending increased by 0.40 percent in April and fell shy of the expected reading of 1.0 percent, but exceeded the March reading of -0.80 percent.
Home Prices Increase Fastest Since 2006
On Tuesday, CoreLogic released its Home Prices reported that the national average home price had increased by 12.10 percent year-over-year in April. The comparable year-over-year reading for April 2012 was 11.00 percent. This represents the fastest pace of home price increases since 2006.
The national average home price expanded by 3.20 percent as compared to March, but average prices grew faster in the West, which is experiencing a pronounced lack of available homes and developed land for building.
New Jobs Created Showing Improvement Over April Revisions
ADP released its private-sector Payrolls Report for May on Wednesday; 135,000 new private sector jobs were added as compared to investor expectations of 170,000 jobs added in May. The May reading surpassed April’s downwardly-revised reading of private-sector jobs added.
Friday’s Jobs Report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consists of the Non-Farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. Non-Farm Payrolls added 175,000 public and private sector jobs and surpassed both the consensus reading of 164,000 new jobs and the prior week’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The National Unemployment Rate ticked up from 7.50 to 7.60 percent. The Department of Labor attributes this increase to more people joining or returning to the labor market.
Investors Watching Fed Mortgage Backed Security Buying Activity Closely
The Federal Reserve Beige Book Report was also released Wednesday. It contained no surprises and noted modest to moderate economic growth in 11 of 12 Federal Reserve Districts. The Dallas Federal Reserve District reported strong growth, but investors will be watching next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting closely for proposed changes to the Fed’s current policy of buying bonds and mortgage backed securities (MBS) with the goal of keeping long term interest rates lower.
Thursday’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought disquieting news of rising mortgage rates. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage had risen from the prior week’s rate of 3.81 percent to 3.91 percent. Discount points fell slightly from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent with buyers paying all of their closing costs. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s average rate of 2.98 percent to 3.03 percent with discount rates remaining the same at 0.70 percent for buyers paying all of their closing costs.
What‘s Ahead for Next Week
There is no news scheduled for release on Monday. The rest of the week’s calendar includes the NFIB Small Business Index on Tuesday and the Federal Budget for May on Wednesday. Thursday’s scheduled releases include Weekly Jobless Claims, Average weekly mortgage rates as reported by Freddie Mac, and Retail Sales for May. Friday’s schedule includes the Producer’s Price Index for May and June’s Consumer Sentiment Report.
Mortgage rates worsened last week amid evidence of an improving economy. Conforming mortgage rates climbed in Utah and nationwide, rising to a 4-month high.
Freddie Mac has the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate at 3.53% for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs.
There was plenty of news on which for rates to move last week.
First, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met and voted to hold the Fed Funds Rate in its current target range near 0.00 percent. The Fed also recommitted to purchasing mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and Treasury securities on the open market until such time as the national Unemployment Rate reaches 6.5%, or until inflation rates rise.
Then, Friday, it was shown in the Non-Farm Payrolls report that the national jobless rate had climbed to 7.9 percent, a statistic Wall Street pinned to Hurricane Sandy. In addition, it was shown that 157,000 net new jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January.
This was a slight improvement from the month prior’s revised figures, and marked the 27th consecutive month of U.S. job growth.
Also last week, the National Association of REALTORS® reported the December Pending Home Sales Index to be lower than expected; largely the result of shortages of available homes in many areas.
In addition, Durable Orders for December were more than twice what investors expected; a further indication of a strengthening U.S. economy.
Lastly, the ISM Index for January surpassed Wall Street’s expectations. This manufacturing index is considered an indicator of future inflationary trends. An upward trend in this index suggests rising mortgage rates. While current mortgage rates remain relatively low, they can be expected to continue rising as the economy improves.
This upcoming week will be quieter with fewer economic series scheduled for release. Factory Orders for December will be announced, as will the ISM Services Index and Jobless Claims. Mortgage rates may continue to rise.