Retail Sales Stall

Aug 12 2016

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The most significant economic report released over the past week, retail sales, fell far short of expectations, which was good for mortgage rates. A decline in bond yields overseas also helped, and mortgage rates ended the week lower. 

After several months of strong readings, Friday's retail sales data fell far short of expectations. Excluding the volatile auto component, retail sales in July fell 0.3% from June, below the consensus for an increase of 0.2%. Auto sales rose a strong 1.1% in July, and total retail sales in July were flat from June, but again this was far below the consensus for an increase of 0.4%. .

Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic output in the U.S., and the retail sales data is a key indicator. Consumer spending during the second quarter was one of the bright spots for the economy. Since the data can be volatile from month to month, investors will be closely watching to see if the July results reflected just a temporary pause or the start of a longer period of weaker spending. Slower economic growth reduces the outlook for future inflation, so the retail sales data was positive for mortgage rates.

Over the past week, bond yields overseas declined. When this happens, it makes the yields on U.S. bonds relatively more attractive to global investors, driving up the demand. This in turn causes the price of U.S. bonds to rise and yields to fall. The strong demand was seen at the Treasury auctions which took place this week. Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) prices also rose, causing mortgage rates to move lower. 

Looking ahead, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report, will come out on Tuesday. CPI looks at the price change for goods and services which are sold to consumers. Housing Starts also will come out on Tuesday. The minutes from the July 24 Fed meeting will come out on Wednesday. These detailed minutes provide additional insight into the debate between Fed officials and have the potential to significantly move markets. 

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Topics: The Money Source, mortgage news, consumer price index, mortgage rates, consumer spending

Fed Lowers Forecasts

Jun 17 2016

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Over the past week, mortgage rates were helped by Wednesday's dovish Fed statement and concerns about the upcoming British vote on leaving the European Union. There was little reaction to the recent economic data. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week near the best levels of the year.

The Fed statement and Fed Chair Yellen's press conference proceeded pretty much as expected. The Fed made no change in the federal funds rate. Investors mostly focused on the projections from Fed officials for the path of rate hikes in coming years which showed a significantly slower pace than the last set of projections made three months ago. Little new information was provided about the timing of the next rate hike. The dovish tone of the statement was positive for mortgage rates.

After several months of disappointing readings, retail sales have bounced back strongly with three straight months of nice gains. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic output in the U.S., and the retail sales data is a key indicator. Consumer spending increased at just a 1.9% annual rate during the first quarter of 2016. 

Following the most recent results, economists estimate that consumer spending is increasing at a 3% to 4% annual rate during the second quarter, leading to higher forecasts for second quarter GDP growth.

The most recent inflation reading, the consumer price index (CPI), reported that core inflation in May was 2.2% higher than a year ago. Core inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, has held steady near this level for several months. During most of 2015, the readings for core inflation were closer to 1.5%.

Looking ahead, the main influence on U.S. mortgage rates is likely to be the "Brexit" vote on Thursday. Due to the economic uncertainty which would result, a vote for the UK to exit the European Union is expected to be positive for U.S. mortgage rates, while a vote to remain would be negative. Polling data released during the week could increase daily volatility. The major U.S. economic reports which will be released next week include existing home sales, new home sales, and durable orders.

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Topics: The Money Source, mortgage news, consumer price index, economic data, federal funds rate, mortgage rates, retail sales, consumer spending

Rates Near Multi-Year Lows

Jun 10 2016

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Central bankers were the main influence on mortgage rates over the past week. The economic data caused little reaction. Mortgage rates ended the week lower, near the best levels in several years.

In a speech on Monday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen discussed the disappointing Employment report seen in May. Yellen warned against reading too much into one report and pointed out that other recent labor market data has been more positive. Job openings, wage gains, and unemployment claims are at levels consistent with continued improvement in the labor market.

However, Yellen's speech dropped a key reference to "in coming months" which had been used in an earlier speech to describe the time frame for the next rate hike. It appears that the May Employment report caused enough concern for Fed officials that they are less confident that the next rate hike will take place soon. As a result, investor expectations for rate hikes from the Fed were pushed farther into the future, which was good for mortgage rates. 

Another positive factor for U.S. mortgage rates was a new stimulus measure from the European Central Bank (ECB), a corporate bond purchase program, which began this week. This new program helped push bond yields in Europe to record low levels, which made U.S. bonds relatively more attractive to investors. This was evident in the high demand for U.S. bonds seen at this week's Treasury auctions. The added demand for U.S. bonds helps keep yields low in the U.S., including mortgage rates. 

Looking ahead, the next Fed meeting will take place on Wednesday. No change in rates is expected, but investors will be looking for hints about the timing of the next rate hike. Before that, the report on retail sales will be released on Tuesday. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic output in the U.S., and the retail sales data is a key indicator. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report, will come out on Thursday. The report on housing starts will be released on Friday.

All material Copyright © Ress No. 1, LTD (DBA MBSQuoteline)

Topics: The Money Source, mortgage news, consumer price index, employment report, economic data, mortgage rates, retail sales, US labor market

Shift in Outlook for Fed Policy

May 20 2016

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Stronger than expected economic data and a shift in expectations for Fed policy were negative for mortgage rates over the past week. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week higher.

Speeches made by Fed officials during the first part of the week alerted investors that the Fed may be much closer to another federal funds rate hike than investors expected. On Wednesday, the release of the minutes from the April 27 Fed meeting confirmed this. In the minutes, Fed officials made it clear that they will consider raising rates as soon as June if economic conditions continue to improve. Investors currently view tighter Fed policy as negative for mortgage rates, so rates rose as the Fed's position became better understood.

One factor supporting the case for tighter monetary policy is stronger than expected improvement in the recent housing data. Existing home sales in April rose for the second straight month and were 6% higher than a year ago. Inventories of existing homes available for sale jumped 9% from March. Sales of existing homes make up about 90% of the market. Housing starts, an indicator of future sales activity for newly built homes, increased 7% in April from March. 

Complicating the decision for the Fed a little is the recent inflation data. The core consumer price index (CPI) in April was 2.1% higher than a year ago, down from a multi-year high of 2.3% in February. After rising significantly for several months, core inflation has declined for the last two months. If this trend continues, it would make the Fed less likely to raise rates. 

Looking ahead, the new home sales data will be released on Tuesday. Durable orders and the pending home sales data will come out on Thursday. The second estimate of first quarter GDP, the broadest measure of economic growth, will be released on Friday. There will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Several Fed officials are scheduled to make speeches next week as well. Mortgage markets will close early on Friday in observance of Memorial Day. 

 All material Copyright © Ress No. 1, LTD (DBA MBSQuoteline)

Topics: Ali Vafai, The Money Source, mortgage news, consumer price index, economic data, housing data, inflation data

Retail Sales Jump

May 16 2016

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The economic data released over the past week was generally better than expected. Strength was seen in retail sales, the labor market, and consumer sentiment. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little higher, but they remain near the best levels of the year. 

After a slow start to the year, Friday's report on retail sales went a long way to increase optimism about stronger economic growth during the second quarter. April retail sales, excluding the volatile auto component, jumped 0.8% from March, which was far more than expected. It was the largest monthly gain in nearly a year. The results for March also were revised higher. 

Despite what appeared to be a weak report on jobless claims, this week's labor market data was encouraging. A spike in jobless claims was seen, but this was due to a strike at Verizon. Nice gains were seen in the JOLTS report, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates. The JOLTS report helps to provide a broader picture of the performance of the labor market. Job openings in March increased to levels which were very close to record highs. The "quits rate" also was at levels consistent with a healthy labor market. Employees are more likely to voluntarily leave their jobs if they are confident that they will find a better job.

Looking ahead, Housing Starts, Industrial Production, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report, will come out on Tuesday. CPI looks at the price change for goods and services which are sold to consumers. The Fed Minutes from the April 27 meeting will come out on Wednesday. These detailed minutes provide additional insight into the debate between Fed officials and have the potential to significantly move markets. Existing Home Sales will be released on Friday. 

Topics: The Money Source, mortgage news, consumer price index, economic data, economic growth, mortgage rates, housing starts, retail sales, jolts, industrial production, US labor market

Inflation Declines

Apr 15 2016

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While the U.S. economic data released over the past week generally was a bit weaker than expected, it was offset to some degree by stronger than expected data in China. The net effect was small, and mortgage rates ended the week just a little higher, up from the lowest levels of the year. 

While explaining why the Fed plans to move gradually to tighten monetary policy, Fed Chair Yellen said that she was concerned that the recent increase in core inflation may be due to temporary factors. The consumer price index (CPI) report for March released on Thursday might be a sign that her concerns are justified. 

Core CPI inflation, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, was 2.2% higher than a year ago, down from a 2.3% annual rate in February, and below the consensus forecast. This follows four straight months of increasing levels of core inflation and may be the start of a trend lower. It would be good for mortgage rates if inflation continues to decline.

Retail sales in March were a good deal weaker than expected. The results were decent, but investors were looking for better. Excluding the volatile auto component, retail sales increased 0.2% from February, which was the largest increase in four months, but it was half the expected level. Consumer spending is an important component of gross domestic product (GDP), and it was somewhat surprising that the report caused so little reaction. 

Looking ahead, the biggest event next week may be Thursday's European Central Bank (ECB) meeting. Bond purchases by the ECB have helped keep global bond yields low, so comments about future policy could have an impact on U.S. mortgage rates. Before that, the NAHB housing index will be released on Monday. Housing starts will come out on Tuesday. Existing home sales will be released on Wednesday.

Topics: Ali Vafai, The Money Source, mortgage industry, mortgage news, consumer price index, economic data, mortgage rates, retail sales, inflation, consumer spending

Higher Inflation

Feb 19 2016

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Mortgage rates spiked higher late last week, as investors bought stocks and sold bonds. The volatility continued this week, but the net effect was favorable for mortgage rates. Despite an upside surprise in the CPI inflation data and stock market gains, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower. 

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the most widely followed monthly inflation indicator, and the readings for January were higher than expected. CPI was 1.4% higher than a year ago, which was the highest level since October 2014. 

Core CPI, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, was 2.2% higher than a year ago, which was the highest level since June 2012. Economists often look at core inflation rather than the overall rate to get a clearer sense of the underlying trend. 

While some forces have helped hold down inflation over the past year, including the stronger dollar and lower oil prices, the service sector has remained strong and costs have been rising. In particular, shelter and medical costs have increased over the past year. Mortgage rates are highly influenced by the outlook for future inflation. If the trend toward higher inflation accelerates, it would be negative for mortgage rates.


Looking ahead, Existing Home Sales will be released on Tuesday and New Home Sales on Wednesday. Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, will come out on Thursday. The Core PCE price index, the Fed's preferred inflation indicator, and the second estimate of fourth quarter GDP will be released on Friday. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 

All material Copyright © Ress No. 1, LTD (DBA MBSQuoteline)


 

Topics: Ali Vafai, The Money Source, mortgage industry, mortgage news, consumer price index, Pink Unicorn, service sector, mortgage rates

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