|US dollar index||92.7|
|10 Year Govt Bond Yield||2.39%|
|Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA||103|
|Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA||104|
|30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage||4.11|
Stocks are flat this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.
Job openings increased to 5.5 million, according to the JOLTS report. This is at levels not seen since 2000. The quits rate has been steady at 2.1%, and that is the ultimate measure of labor market strength and a leading indicator for wage growth and inflation. As long as that number is steady, the Fed can be reasonably comfortable that inflation is going to stay low.
Small business optimism rocketed in December, according to the NFIB. The index rose 7.4 points to 105.8, the highest level since December 2004. The lion’s share of the gain was due to improving expectations, so it probably will be given back if big changes in the regulatory and tax environment don’t materialize. Job creation plans did hit a 9 year high, and capital expenditure plans jumped as well. That said, actual hiring in December was virtually unchanged from a month ago. That said, competition remains tight for skilled workers and a net 26% of respondents reported increasing compensation.
Despite the improvement for small business, some in Corporate America (the automakers) are not sure what to think. Trump’s jawboning over outsourcing has caused automakers general uncertainty, as the industry recovers from the worst slump since the Great Depression. The ultimate trade may in fact turn out that Trump will let Obama’s new fuel efficiency standards die in return for more production in the US.
Rising rates are hurting buyer sentiment, according to Fannie Mae. Their Home Purchase Sentiment Index fell for the fifth month in a row. The survey predicts that home prices will increase 2.1% next year, however the survey has been consistently lower than the professional forecasts, let alone actual price appreciation. Respondents also believe it is easier to get a mortgage than it was two years ago. Their view of the economy has improved dramatically, with roughly the same percentage of people thinking the economy is on the right track versus the wrong track. Note this optimism was reflected in the Gallup data as well.
There were 26,000 completed foreclosures in November, according to CoreLogic. The seriously delinquent rate was 2.5%, which is the lowest since August 2007. Foreclosure inventory remains concentrated in the judicial states of New York, New Jersey, and Florida. The seriously delinquent rate remains highest in NY and NJ as well, with rates of 5% and 5.6% on average.
Yesterday’s change in FHA MIP caused some strange activity in the TBA market which affected pricing. Bonds were up yesterday and pricing was generally better for most products, except for higher-coupon FHA and VA loans. That pricing actually worsened. Why? Because the change in annual MIP caused investors to bump up their prepayment assumptions for higher coupon Ginnie securities (generally those with 4% coupons and up). This makes those higher coupon mortgage backed securities worth less than last week, all things being equal. So if you priced out a FHA loan on Friday expecting to see better pricing, only to get an unpleasant surprise, the MIP change was the reason. On the bright side, refinancing just got more attractive.
Quicken CEO Dan Gilbert accused the Department of Justice of conducting a shakedown operation.
Goldman’s Dan Hatzius is handicapping a 35% of a March hike this year, while the Fed Funds futures are handicapping a 25% chance. Goldman is much more hawkish than the Fed in general, and they foresee a more linear hiking of rates while the Fed (and the futures markets) are forecasting a more gentle increase.