The Veterans Day holiday on Monday contributed to a quiet week for economic news. On Wednesday the reading for the federal budget deficit for October fell from September’s reading of -$120 billion to -$92 billion.
Freddie Mac Released Its Primary Mortgage Market Survey On Thursday
The average mortgage rates increased across the board, but remain below historical levels. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 9 basis points from 4.16 percent to 4.35 percent with discount points decreasing from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent.
The average 15-year mortgage rate rose from 3.27 percent to 3.35 percent with discount points the same at 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage increased from 2.96 percent to 3.01 percent with discount points moving from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.
Weekly Jobless Claims were released Thursday and were reported at 339,000 new claims. This was higher than the expected number of 335,000 new claims, but lower than the prior week’s reading of 341,000 new claims.
In other news, Janet Yellen, the President’s choice for chairing the Federal Reserve, defended the Fed’s quantitative easing policy during her first confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. QE, which involves Fed purchases of $85 billion monthly in Treasury and mortgage backed securities, was designed to keep long-term interest rates and mortgage rates low.
Credit Reporting Agency: Mortgage Defaults Reach 5-Year Low In Q3 2013
TransUnion, one of three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., reported that mortgage defaults fell to a five-year low to a reading of 4.09 percent for the third quarter of 2013.
This reading is lower year-over-year than the revised reading of 5.33 percent for the third quarter of 2012. The reading for third quarter 2013 mortgage defaults is also lower than the reading of 4.32 percent for the second quarter of 2013.
A mortgage default is defined as a home loan that is at least two months past due on payments.
Analysts cite moderate but stable job gains, comparatively low mortgage rates and a short supply of available homes as factors contributing to improvements in the housing sector. Analysts noted that mortgage defaults have declined during the past five quarters.
As defaulted mortgage loans made before the economy crashed are foreclosed, mortgage defaults were expected to continue falling. TransUnion reported that it expects mortgage defaults to fall below 4.00 percent by year-end.
What’s Coming Up: NAHB Index, FOMC Minutes
This week, the National Association of Home Builders is scheduled to release its Home Builder Confidence Index for November.
Along with the weekly releases of Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s PMMS report on mortgage rates, the FOMC is expected to release the minutes of its last meeting. Existing Home Sales for October are also set for release.
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.
Many of the economic and housing reports typically scheduled were delayed by the federal government shutdown.
The National Association of Homebuilders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for October was released Wednesday with a reading of 55, lower than the projected 58 and previous month’s revised reading of 57. The original reading for September was 58, which was the highest measure of builder confidence since 2005.
NAHB cited concerns over mortgage rates and the federal government shutdown and its consequences as reasons for homebuilder confidence slipping.
While the NAHB HMI reading was lower than last month, it remains in positive territory as any reading over 50 indicates that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than those who are not.
Pent-up demand for homes is fueling home builder confidence, which grew by 34 percent over the past year and exceeded the rate of home construction growth.
NAHB Releases Housing Starts Data For September
The Census Bureau was unable to release data on housing starts for September. NAHB released a report estimating September housing starts would be approximately 900,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.
Single family home construction is expanding while multi-family home construction remains volatile. The NAHB report estimates single-family housing starts for September at between 620,000 and 630,000 homes annually.
Fed Beige Book: Residential Real Estate Improved, 4 Districts Report Slower Growth
The Fed released its ”Beige Book” survey of its 12 banking districts on Wednesday. eight districts reported little or no change in economic conditions and 4 districts reported slower economic growth for September and October.
Real estate and home construction were improved, although several Fed districts reported concerns over rising mortgage rates. The Beige Book report was based on data gathered October 7, one week after the government shutdown began.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Jump
Freddie Mac reported increases in average mortgage rates; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.28 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent.This was five basis points higher than the previous week.
The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.33 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.07 percent. Discount points for both 15 year mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.70 percent and 0.40 percent respectively.
Weekly jobless claims reported on Thursday rose from the prior week. 358,000 new jobless claims were filed as compared to the expected number of 335,000. During the prior week, 373,000 new jobless claims were filed. The latest data was from the week of October 7, the second week the government was shut down.
What‘s Ahead: Delayed Government Data Expected
Some federal agencies have given dates for releasing data delayed by the shutdown. These included Nonfarm Payrolls and the Unemployment rate for September, which are set for release October 22. The Consumer Price Index and Core CPI for September are scheduled for October 30.
Last week’s economic news was dominated by the Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper its $85 billion in monthly securities purchases.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted in a scheduled statement after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting that economic conditions were not yet adequately improved to withstand any decrease in the federal quantitative easing program.
The Fed also reaffirmed that the target federal funds rate would remain at 0.00 to 0.25 percent until the national unemployment rate reached 6.50 percent and inflation reaches 2.00 percent.
The national unemployment rate was 7.30 percent and the Fed projects that inflation will remain under 2.00 percent through 2015.
In both the FOMC statement and his press conference, Chairman Bernanke repeatedly emphasized that the Fed would take no action to reduce QE until the economy strengthens. No automatic reduction of QE purchases would take place without full consideration of the nation’s economy.
The QE program is intended to keep long-term interest rates low, and the announcement that QE would not be tapered brought mortgage rates down after they had increased by more than one percent since May.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for September revealed that home builder confidence in housing market conditions remained stable at 58; a reading of 59 was expected. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders are confident about market conditions than not.
Housing starts for August did not reflect the high level of builder confidence and fell short of expectations at 891,000. Expected housing starts were estimated at 921,000. There was good news in that August’s reading surpassed the July reading of 883 housing starts. Building permits for August also dropped to 918,000 against expectations of 955,000 and July’s reading of 954,000 building permits.
Higher labor and materials costs and concerns over tight mortgage credit and rising mortgage rates likely contributed to the lower than expected readings for housing starts and building permits.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points from 3.59 percent to 3.54 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent.
The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by 11 basis points to 3.11 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. This provides a break for home buyers who’ve been faced with rising mortgage rates and home prices amidst a shortage of available homes in many areas.
Freddie Mac will release its weekly summary of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will also be released Thursday. The week will end with consumer related data including personal income and consumer spending for August along with the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for September.
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.