Morning Report: New Home Sales beat expectations 6/23/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2433.0 1.3
Eurostoxx Index 387.2 -1.3
Oil (WTI) 42.9 0.1
US dollar index 88.7 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.15%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.92

Stocks are flattish after the Fed gave a clean bill of health to the banks it stress-tested. Bonds and MBS are up small.

One year ago today, the UK voted to leave the EU, which ignited a big rally in the bond market and pushed the 10 year down to a 1.37% yield.

New Home Sales ticked up in May to a seasonally adjusted pace of 610k. This was up 2.9% MOM and 8.9% YOY.  The median new home sales price was $345,800 and the average price was $406,400. There are 268,000 new homes for sale at the moment. The 610k print was pretty much the average for the US from 1965-1995. New home sales peaked at over 1.3 million during the bubble years, but we are still a long way from normalcy, given population growth and obsolescence.

new home sales fred

34 systemically important banks passed their stress tests yesterday. The banks are getting better at passing these exams, and the sense is that the Trump Administration will nominate someone to the Fed who will dial back these exams a bit. Next week, the Fed will release its comprehensive capital review, which will determine whether the big banks can increase their dividends or buy back stock.

Here is a good way to determine how tight a local housing market is: compare the ratio of new jobs to new building permits. In the Bay Area, that ratio is 6.4x: over the past 5 years, that MSA has added 373,000 new jobs, but has issued permits for only 58,000 new units. Lack of land, along with regulatory issues are holding back building there. In less constrained MSAs (both land and regulation) like Houston, the ratio is 1.3x. For the whole US, the country added just about 2.2 million jobs in 2016 and building permits totaled about 1.2 million, or a ratio of 1.8x.

The Canadian housing bubble continues to defy gravity, but the signs are there that its days are probably numbered. Warren Buffet took a 38% stake in troubled Canadian lender Home Capital and agreed to provide a $2 billion line. You can see from the chart below how far the Canadian bubble has exceeded the US one: Note that these are inflation-adjusted indices which is why US prices appear to have not recouped the losses from the bubble years. They have on a nominal basis, but not an inflation-adjusted basis.

canada real estate

The current median house price in Canada is about 520k and the median income is about 76k, putting the median house price to median income ratio at 6.8x. The US ratio peaked at 4.8x, which gives you some idea of how far prices have gone up North. Once the bubble bursts, it is bound to have some knock-on effects in the US, especially at the high end of the market which is probably more linked to China’s bubble than people care to admit.

The US Government has recommended that the new benchmark short term rate become the Treasury repo rate instead of LIBOR, which is subject to manipulation (as we saw in the UK). Not sure how this will affect current adjustable rate mortgages, but new ones will probably lose LIBOR and will use constant maturity treasuries or some alternative index.

Morning Report: Home price appreciation is accelerating 6/22/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2431.8 -1.8
Eurostoxx Index 387.6 -0.9
Oil (WTI) 42.9 0.4
US dollar index 88.8 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.15%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.92

Stocks are lower this morning as oil turns into a bear market. Bonds and MBS are up small.

Initial Jobless Claims rose 3000 last week to 241k, while the index of leading economic indicators rose again. The LEI report noted that pretty much everything is improving, except for housing and the manufacturing workweek.

Home Prices rose 0.7% in April, according to the FHFA House Price Index. On a YOY basis, they are up 6.8%. As inventory gets tighter, price increases are accelerating, which is a problem as house prices are now pretty stretched versus incomes. The West Coast is still experiencing close to double digit growth, while home price inflation in the Upper Midwest and Northeast lag the rest of the country.

Some Trump advisors are recommending that Janet Yellen be replaced when her term ends in February. Yellen is a dove, and Trump recently seemed to reverse his pre-election view on interest rates. As a general rule, politicians love dovish Feds, so this is unsurprising. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says Trump “hasn’t given this much thought” since it is so far away. Among the other names being mentioned include Stanford’s John Taylor, Columbia’s Glenn Hubbard, and former Fed governor Kevin Warsh.

As rates have fallen, prepayment speeds have increased, which is generally good news for originators, but bad news for those who own servicing. Delinquencies have reversed their calendar-driven April rise as well, according to Black Knight Financial Services. In fact, loans 90 days down or in foreclosure hit a 10 year low.

The average closing rate for a mortgage inched up in May, according to the Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report. The typical FICO rose a point to 723, with an 80 LTV. The closing rate hit 70.4%.

What are the priorities for the MBA in the upcoming year?  Removing regulatory barriers to housing, GSE reform, GNMA servicing, and much more.

Morning Report: Existing Home Sales rise 6/21/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2436.5 -1.0
Eurostoxx Index 387.7 -1.5
Oil (WTI) 43.3 -0.9
US dollar index 88.9 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.17%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.92

Stocks are lower this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Mortgage applications rose 0.6% last week as purchases fell 1% and refis rose 2%. The average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was flat at 4.13%. The share of refis rose to 46.6% from 45.4%.

Existing home sales rose 1.1% MOM and 2.7% YOY, according to NAR. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales activity expanded in May as more buyers overcame the increasingly challenging market conditions prevalent in many areas. “The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level,” he said. “Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

Chicago FRB President Charles Evans said the Fed can wait until December to hike rates, and that it could begin to start shrinking its balance sheet earlier than that. Note the Fed Funds futures are predicting the Fed will stand pat at the July and September FOMC meetings. The median house price was up 5.8% to $252,800. Unsold inventory is at 4.2 months’ worth and days on market fell to 27 days. The first time homebuyer accounted for 33% of sales, down a percentage point from April but up 3 from a year ago.

On this day, 10 years ago the financial crisis began as creditors began to auction off collateral at two Bear Stearns hedge funds.

Is the high price of housing in the Bay Area bringing back the 19th century concept of the company town? Google has been buying apartments for temporary housing for its employees. Interesting issue, where builders won’t take the risk on building new housing, but companies need the housing for their employees.

The government is looking to tackle GSE reform again, Johnson – Crapo from 2014 was simply too complicated, and affordable housing types were against it as well. Sen Mike Warner said: “We have consensus on the importance of the 30-year loan, we have consensus that there needs to be more capital on the front end so in the event of a catastrophic event where the government guarantee kicks in, you’ll have private capital at risk. We’re also thinking of using Ginnie Mae as the wrap. And we’re trying to maintain an active TBA market so there is liquidity and the ability of borrowers to lock in their mortgage rates.” Warner went on to say that GSE reform could happen before financial reform as there is more bipartisan consensus on that.

Morning Report: Good numbers out of Lennar 6/20/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2446.3 -1.3
Eurostoxx Index 391.2 -0.8
Oil (WTI) 43.1 -1.1
US dollar index 88.9 0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.18%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.92

Stocks are lower as oil continues to fall. Bonds and MBS are flat.

No economic data today, however we do have some Fed-speak. Overnight Stanley Fischer observed that some countries have real estate bubbles and low interest rates might have played a role. (Gee, ya think?) The planet’s central bankers are on a mission to create inflation, however the inflation they want (wages) is not happening – it is going into inflation they don’t necessarily want (asset prices). Fischer noted that the US government basically IS the mortgage market in the US and that government support for MBS should be made explicit.

Lennar reported better than expected earnings this morning, with revenues up 19%. Deliveries increased 15% and backlog was up 20% in dollar terms. While revenues rose, margins are falling, with gross margins down 160 basis points. Lennar CEO Stuart Miller said: “We are now seeing, contrary to recent reports on housing starts and building permits, more of a reversion to normal in the housing market than the slow and steady recovery pace of the last several years.” The stock is up a couple of percent pre-open.

Meanwhile, the lousy housing starts number prompted a number of houses to take down their Q2 GDP estimates. Merrill took their estimate down to 2.2%, while the Atlanta Fed took their estimate down to 2.9%. The NY Fed’s estimate is coming in at 1.9%.

Credit risk for new mortgages edged up according to CoreLogic. The index is at similar levels to 2001-2003, which CoreLogic considers a baseline for credit risk. Part of this is due to the effect higher interest rates have on credit scores. As CoreLogic observes: “Since 2009, for every one-half percentage point increase in mortgage rates, the average credit score on refinance borrowers has dipped by 9 points, and this pattern will likely continue if mortgage rates move higher. That is because when rates rise, applications drop off and loan officers spend more time with the applicants that have less-than-perfect credit scores, require more documentation or have unique property issues.”

Morning Report: Slow week coming up 6/19/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2437.0 7.3
Eurostoxx Index 391.4 2.8
Oil (WTI) 44.8 0.1
US dollar index 88.6 0.2
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.17%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.89

Stocks are up this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Slow news day.

We don’t have much in the way of important economic data this week (new home sales on Friday is probably the biggest), but we do have a lot of Fed-speak. Also, the Fed will release the results from its latest stress tests on Thursday afternoon. We will get some more housing data with existing home sales and the FHFA House Price Index.

Where do the Fed Funds futures stand after the FOMC meeting last week? For the upcoming July meeting, a 97% chance of no changes to rates. For the Sep meeting, an 87% chance of no changes, and for December a 54% chance of no moves. The Fed continues to insist that the weak inflation numbers are transitory, however the markets don’t seem to believe them. Note that monetary policy is a partisan issue as well.

Another reason why inventory is so tight? 10% of the housing starts last year were tear-downs, which means a new structure is replacing an older one, so there is no net change in housing inventory.

Debt supernova? Bill Gross warns of the possible negative consequences of $9.5 trillion in negative-yielding sovereign debt. The problem with the supernova theory is that most of the buyers of this negative yielding debt are central banks, not retail investors, and central banks are doing it for policy reasons. It is still strange though, Grandpa tell me again about how you had to pay money to lend to the government?

Elizabeth Warren wants the Fed to fire Wells Fargo’s Board of Directors.

Morning Report: Housing starts fall 6/16/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2433.8 1.8
Eurostoxx Index 388.2 2.2
Oil (WTI) 44.9 0.4
US dollar index 88.5 -0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.17%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.89

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Slow news day.

Housing starts fell in May to an annualized rate of 1.09MM. This is a 5.5% drop from April and a 2.4% drop YOY. Building Permits fell as well. Both single-fam and multi-fam segments fell. Builders claim that a lack of skilled labor and available land are causing the problem.

The lack of building is pushing rents higher, and the number of people who spend 50% or more on of their income on housing is at a record level. The issue is a big problem in many metro areas, however outside of those areas affordability is better. There is also a huge difference between MSAs, with places like the Bay Area completely unaffordable compared to the Rust Belt, where prices have yet to recover their bubble peaks.

Amazon is buying Whole Foods..  I guess you’ll soon be able to get your artisanal tortilla chips delivered by drone to your house.

Morning Report: Fed hikes, but is a credibility problem brewing? 6/15/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2420.0 -15.3
Eurostoxx Index 384.3 -3.3
Oil (WTI) 44.6 -0.2
US dollar index 88.6 0.5
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.16%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.31
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.375
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.95

Stocks are lower this morning after the FOMC raised rates yesterday. Bonds and MBS are down after rallying yesterday.

As expected, the FOMC raised the Fed Funds rate by 25 basis points and continued its policy of re-investing maturing bonds from QE back into the market. Neel Kashkari dissented, preferring to maintain the current Fed Funds rate. The dot plot basically did not change meaningfully from March to January. The projections did change, as the unemployment forecast for 2018 and 2019 was revised downward from 4.5% to 4.2%. Bonds reacted negatively to the move, but that was colored by the fact that bond yields were already down 10 basis points on the day due to the weaker than expected CPI and consumer spending numbers. The highlighted areas on the projection below show the major changes.

FOMC projections - June 2017

The Fed Funds futures are predicting a less than 15% chance of a rate hike in September, however. In fact, the Fed funds futures are handicapping a 50% chance of no more rate hikes this year.

Fed Funds probability CME

Compare the Fed Funds futures implied probability to the latest dot plot. The labels on the side show what each forecast is.

dot plot June 2017

Note that 14 out of the 17 FOMC members think the Fed is going to hike at least another 25 basis points this year. In fact, 4 out of 17 think that will be the case, while the market gives it about a 6% chance. There is a big disconnect happening between what the Fed is saying it will do and what the market thinks they will do. Not necessarily saying the Fed has a credibility problem, but the markets and the FOMC don’t seem to be on the same page.

In other economic data, initial jobless claims fell to 237k last week, which is more evidence that the labor market is strengthening into the summer months. The Philly Fed report showed continued strength in manufacturing, while the Empire State Manufacturing Survey picked up strength as well.

Industrial production was flat in May after a big upwardly-revised jump in April. Manufacturing production slipped 0.4%, while capacity utilization ticked down 0.1%. Big picture: April was a huge jump in all indices and May gave back a little.

The NAHB Housing Market Index slipped a little in May, but builder sentiment is still buoyant.

Wells is being sued for allegedly changing the terms of loans for customers in bankruptcy. They lowered the payments, but extended the term without the borrower’s knowledge, nor Court approval, the suit alleges. The stock is down slightly pre-open, more or less in line with the market.

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