Morning Report: New Home Sales climb 7/26/16

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2163.0 -0.3
Eurostoxx Index 341.8 2.0
Oil (WTI) 42.5 -0.6
US dollar index 88.1 0.2
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.56%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.3
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.2
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.53

Markets are flattish on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up small.

New Home Sales rose to 592k in June, much higher than the Street expectation. The median new home price rose 6.1% YOY to $306,700. There is about 4.9 month’s worth of inventory right now, compared to 5.1 months in May.

Consumer confidence slipped in June to 97.3 from 97.4.

Home prices continued to appreciate in May, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. “Home prices continue to appreciate across the country,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Overall, housing is doing quite well. In addition to strong prices, sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since 2007 as construction of new homes showed continuing gains. The SCE Housing Expectations Survey published by the New York Federal Reserve Bank shows that consumers expect home prices to continue rising, though at a somewhat slower pace.”

The FOMC starts its meeting today, and we will get the decision tomorrow around 2:00 pm. Here is a good take on how to parse the FOMC statement. The key will be the characterization of the economy in the first paragraph. If the Fed notes an improvement in the economy since June, then that could be interpreted as a step towards hiking in September.

Is wage growth beginning to pick up?  One key will be the employment cost indicator, which will be released on Friday. The ECI was depressed in the second quarter of 2015, so we should get a mid 2% YOY comparison. Is that enough to convince the Fed that inflation is returning to their 2% target? Possibly, but the Fed has said they are going to let the labor market run hot for a while. Don’t forget, even if the Fed hikes rates 25 basis points this year, monetary policy is still at emergency-level accommodation. Note that many indicators are showing that the economy is recovering well, and the doves will be on the defensive at some point.

Interesting article about how it is so hard to make affordable housing affordable. Trying to build in an urban area and hold rents down to $500 a month is impossible without government subsidies. Regulatory issues like open space set asides also do not help. This is also an issue with starter homes, especially in high cost urban areas on the West Coast. By the time you build and comply with all the regulations, you are looking at a $500k + price tag, which is way out of the range of the typical first time homebuyer.

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