Morning Report: Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary 11/30/16

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2210.5 7.0
Eurostoxx Index 342.4 1.4
Oil (WTI) 48.8 3.5
US dollar index 91.7 0.4
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.39%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.14

Stocks are higher this morning as oil rises. Bonds and MBS are down.

Oil ministers are meeting in Vienna today and market participants are optimistic a deal can be reached to cut production. Oil is up 7.5% this morning on speculation of a deal. Ordinarily, high oil prices are bad for markets, but these days it is considered a plus.

Donald Trump has reportedly selected Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary. Mnuchin is another Goldman guy, making him the third Goldman Treasury Secretary since the mid 90s. Not much is known about his position on things like the dollar and interest rates. Given Trump’s focus on manufacturing jobs, Mnuchin could be a departure from the strong dollar policy that has been in place for several administrations.

Part of Trump’s tax plan will include tax reform, where top rates will go down, however deductions will be limited. The mortgage interest deduction cap of $1 million for first and second mortgages will probably be lowered. This will probably affect only the very high end, but it is something to keep in mind for jumbo borrowers who have high DTIs to begin with. The Administration is saying that the very wealthy will get no “absolute” tax cut, but the middle class will.

Neither new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross nor Steve Mnuchin went out of their way to defend current Fed Head Janet Yellen, saying the decision on the remainder of her term is up to Trump. Donald Trump had been critical of Fed policy on the campaign trail, saying that interest rates were too low. Now that he is an actual politician, he may become more accepting of lower rates, as most politicians usually are. Reagan was the exception, however the 1970s inflation was so bad, people recognized that something had to be done.

Mortgage applications fell 9.4% last week as purchases fell 0.2% and refis fell 16%. Purchases held up reasonably well given the short Thanksgiving holiday.

The US added 216,000 jobs in November, according to the ADP survey. The Street was looking for 160,000 on the ADP number and has forecast 170,000 for Friday’s jobs report.

Pending home sales increased 0.1% last month as tight inventory remains an impediment to sales. Tight inventory is pushing prices up at triple the rate of wage growth, which is ultimately an untenable situation. Pending home sales rose in the Northeast, Midwest and West, while falling in the South.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager Index rose to 57.6 from 52 last month.

Personal incomes broke out of their range in October, increasing 0.6% after a string of 0.3% – 0.4% increases. Personal consumption declined however to a 0.3% increase. This bumped up the savings rate to 6% of disposable personal income, the highest since March. The PCE index for inflation is up 1.4% YOY and the PCE ex-food and energy index is up 1.7%. Nothing in this report will change the Fed’s thinking regarding the next Fed meeting.

Donald Trump announced on Twitter this morning that he will be “leaving his great business in total.” Not sure if that means a blind trust or a divestiture. A blind trust run by his kids will probably not be enough to mollify his critics.

Loan officers are painfully aware that rates have been going up. Investors have been taking it on the chin as well: the 10 year has had its worst month since 2009. Bonds have lost 2.4% this month, which is about about a years’ worth of interest at these levels. That said, the increase in rates has yet to match the 2013 “taper tantrum.” Another key piece of data: the difference between Treasuries and German Bunds is the highest on record, indicating that the correlation between US bonds and foreign bonds is breaking down. This makes sense as the Fed and the ECB have fundamentally different postures at this point.

Realtor.com has its 5 trends for 2017. Millennials move to the Midwest, home price appreciation slows, and tight inventory remain the major trends.

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