Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mortgage Market Guide Vol. 10 Issue 19

Last Week in Review: The Jobs Report for April is in, but what did the news reveal about our economy?

Take this job and love it. And the Labor Department’s Jobs Report for April showed that fewer than expected people are able to do this, as fewer than expected jobs were created. Read on for details and what they mean for home loan rates.

The Jobs Report showed that 115,000 jobs were created in April, with 130,000 private sector jobs offsetting government job losses. This number was a disappointment and below expectations. The only silver lining in the report were upward revisions to the previous month's readings which added 53,000 more jobs than what was previously reported.

The unemployment rate dropped a tick to 8.1% — the lowest since January 2009. However, the decline was mainly due to the labor force shrinking by 300,000, rather than by robust job growth. And as expected, we are starting to hear more and more about the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR). The LFPR dropped to 63.6, the lowest ratio since December 1981. Why is this important? The LFPR gives us a clear read of who is working and who is not.  And if someone is not participating, then they are probably receiving some sort of social security or unemployment insurance. The bottom line is that it is tough to pay down debt when there are not enough people participating in the labor force. 

Overall the Jobs Report was underwhelming and, unfortunately, further accommodative monetary policy or even more Bond buying (known as Quantitative Easing or QE3) will have a very limited effect on job growth. What’s more, the debt drama in Europe continues to escalate, as both Italy and Germany reported higher than expected unemployment rates, while Spain has slipped into its second recession since the financial crisis.

The events in Europe and potential softening of our economy have resulted in home loan rates remaining near historic lows. That means now continues to be 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: A quiet week is ahead, but an important inflation report will be released.

 As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates reached record best levels after last week’s Jobs Report. I’ll be monitoring the markets closely this week to see what happens next.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday May 04, 2012)

After two weeks featuring a slew of economic reports, this week's calendar is light. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a battle for investing dollars in the Stock and Bond markets!
  • The first report won't be released until Thursday with the weekly Initial Jobless Claims report. Last week, claims fell by 27,000, which was the largest weekly decline since May 2011.  
  • On Friday, inflation at the wholesale level will be released in the form of the Producer Price Index (PPI). Last week it was reported that the year-over-year Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) rose to 2%, the high end of the Fed's range.
  • The last report on Friday will be the first reading on Consumer Sentiment for May.
With so few economic reports this week, market players will be focusing in on the ongoing debt crisis in Europe, earnings reports and how the $66 Billion in Treasury Notes and Bonds will be received. All three of those news items could move Bonds and home loan rates this week.

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. The chart above shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond that home loan rates are based on. 

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving — and when they are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.
To go one step further — a red “candle” means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green “candle” means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes were on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning. 

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