Morning Report – Case-Schiller 02/26/13

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1490.8 3.6 0.24%
Eurostoxx Index 2586.8 -65.1 -2.45%
Oil (WTI) 92.23 -0.9 -0.95%
LIBOR 0.287 0.000 0.00%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 81.85 0.180 0.22%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.87% 0.01%  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 194.1 -0.5  

Markets are higher after yesterday’s bloodbath.  Yesterday’s sell-off was blamed on Italian election results which caused a 32 bp sell-off in Italian sovereigns.  They have traded another 50 basis points wider this morning. The Bernank will testify before the Senate Banking Committee today.  Bonds are higher, continuing yesterday’s furious rally. The 10-year has tightened by 13 basis points and is trading at 1.87%.  MBS are flat.

The S&P Case-Schiller index of home prices rose 6.8% YOY and .88% MOM in December. The only MSA with negative growth was New York.  Separately, FHFA reported that prices increased .6% MOM in December. They note that while the foreclosure pipeline is still high, the actual number of homes available for sale is very low and falling. 

Altos has a piece on why inventory is so low. First, they cite low housing starts. From 1957 – 2002, we averaged 1.5 million units a year.  Since the bubble burst, we have been hitting around 700k. Quickly ramping up housing construction is difficult. Second, there is psychological effect of sellers who now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Prices are rising again, and they are hoping to get out flat. Finally, the government has emphatically sided with home owners over home buyers. They are pulling out all the stops to keep inventory off the market through foreclosure mitigation and refinance opportunities for underwater homeowners.  This has the net effect of restricting supply, which is good for existing homeowners, but not so much for first time homebuyers who want in. The net result:  2013 home price appreciation should be very strong. 

In confirmation of the above, the Despot reported a 13.9% increase in 4Q sales, with comps up 7%. While they attribute some of the growth to Sandy repairs, they mainly cite the improving residential real estate market. 

In a sign that the refi boom may be over, JP Morgan plans on cutting headcount in mortgage banking by 13k – 15k in an effort to cut $3B in expenses by the end of 2014. They see cutting 3,000 – 4,000 jobs in consumer banking this year, almost entirely by attrition.  The hits keep coming….

Bob Corker is saying the ball is in the White House’s court in order to confirm CFPB acting Chairman Richard Cordray.  A January court decision that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were unconstitutional is giving Republicans a chance to press for changes to CFPB in order to bring more of it under Congressional control.  They are arguing for a 5 member bipartisan board, and for the budget to be subject to the normal appropriations process. 

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