Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mortgage Market Guide Vol. 9 Issue 51

Last Week in Review: Several reports brought good news to the Markets, plus there was news on inflation.

"Whistle while you work." Snow White. That's something more people have been able to do lately, as Initial Jobless Claims have now fallen below 400,000 - a level that historically is associated with an improving job market - for five out of the last six weeks. And that wasn't the only bit of good news the markets saw last week. Read on for details.

Not only was last week's Initial Jobless Claims reading of 366,000 the lowest level since May of 2008, there was a double dose of good news in the manufacturing sector, as both the Philadelphia Fed Index and the Empire State Index were both well above expectations. Normally, good economic news causes money to move out of Bonds and into Stocks as investors like to take advantage of gains...and this would typically hurt home loan rates, as they are tied to Mortgage Bonds.

However, the continued uncertainty out of Europe helped keep Bonds and home loan rates on an improving trend, as the US Dollar and US Bonds (including Mortgage Bonds, which home loan rates are based on) are benefiting from safe haven buying. Ultimately, Europe needs to provide a large financial backstop for their banks and sovereign debt in order to fix their problems longer-term. Until this happens, uncertainty should benefit the US Dollar and US Bonds, and keep home loan rates relatively low.

One factor that we can't ignore, though, is inflation. Despite the Fed stating again last week that inflation is moderating, core consumer level inflation has continued to inch higher every month. Also, last week's Producer Price Index showed that inflation at the wholesale level was slightly higher in November. Remember 
inflation is the arch enemy of Bonds and home loan rates, because if inflation rises, investors in Bonds demand a higher yield to offset the lost buying power inflation imposes on a fixed payment. And as home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, this would mean home loan rates move higher.
The bottom line is that while the uncertainty out of Europe should continue to help Bonds and home loan rates, both inflation and continued good economic reports here in the US could temper these improvements. With home loan rates still near historic lows, now remains a great time to purchase or refinance a home. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients. 

Forecast for the Week: The Bond Markets may be closing early Friday, but there will be plenty of reports on the housing market, inflation, and the state of the economy 

The Bond Markets will be closing early at 2:00 p.m. on Friday for the Christmas holiday, but the week will be busy before then.
  • Housing Starts and Building Permits (Tuesday), Existing Home Sales (Wednesday) and New Home Sales (Friday) for November will be reported.
  • Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be delivered on Thursday, and the Markets will be looking to see if the reading remains under 400,000.
  • Also on Thursday, we'll see the Consumer Sentiment Index for December as well as the final reading on Third Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2011. The second reading came in at 2%, down from the first reading of 2.5%.
  • Finally, Friday the markets will see reports on Personal Income and Personal Spending along with the inflation indicator Core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE). Durable Goods will also be reported.
In addition to those reports, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will announce downward revisions for Existing Home Sales over the past 5 years - and the revision is expected to be "meaningful."
Finally, the Treasury Department will sell a whopping $99 Billion in 2-, 5- and 7-year Notes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result. 

 Want to give a gift that keeps on giving? Check out this great idea below.  

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A gift card for charity is an ideal reward for employees or thank you gift for customers and vendors that links their passion for a cause to your company's brand. A new study by researchers from Harvard Business School, the University of British Columbia and the University of Liege that was recently highlighted in the Washington Post confirms that a bonus employees get to spend on others is more motivating than a bonus they get to spend on themselves. A Good Card recipient can redeem their gift card as a donation to any of more than a million nonprofits, an easy way for employees to share their personal rewards with others.

Good Card purchases, including fees, are tax-deductible to your company and are a creative way to spend funds earmarked for philanthropy. In addition, because Good Card purchases are charitable donations, they do not fall under the IRS gift limit or policies around corporate gifts with cash value. Network for Good's charity gift card program is turn-key, customizable and easy to implement - even at the last minute. The program is recommended for any company looking to put a special spin on their gift-giving this year. What's more, the person GIVING the gift (i.e., the card purchaser) gets the benefit of a tax advantage for charitable donations as well.

The Good Card is a creative and constructive way to honor partners and prospects, friends and neighbors during the holiday season and throughout the year. Visit Network For Good for more details. 

As your mortgage professional, I am sending you the MMG WEEKLY because I am committed to keeping you updated on the economic events that impact interest rates and how they may affect you.


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