Morning Report: Strong new home sales 4/25/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2375.3 5.3
Eurostoxx Index 387.5 1.4
Oil (WTI) 49.2 0.0
US dollar index 89.5 0.1
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.31%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.625
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.68
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.98

Stocks are higher this morning as it looks like cooler heads are prevailing in the continuing resolution negotiations. Bonds and MBS are down small.

New home sales increased to an annualized rate of 621k, well above the Street expectations of 587k. New Home Sales is a notoriously volatile number, but it looks like the Spring Selling Season is off to a good start.

Pulte announced earnings this morning, with a 14% increase in revenues and a 17% increase in earnings. CEO Ryan Marshall had this to say about the spring selling season: “Buyer interest during the spring selling season of 2017 has been high and points to the ongoing strength in recovery for the housing industry. Strong buyer demand continues to be supported by an improving economy and resulting employment and wage gains, high consumer confidence, a low inventory of new and existing homes, and the powerful demographic forces of Millennials and Baby Boomers. Given the strength of our land pipeline and our disciplined investment practices, PulteGroup is well positioned to grow its market presence and improve its financial performance within this operating environment.” Note that gross margins fell by 230 basis points, which shows costs are outpacing price growth.

In other economic data, consumer confidence slipped in April, but is still strong, while the State Street Investor Confidence Index unexpectedly rose. The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index improved as well.

Home price appreciation accelerated in February, according to the FHFA House Price Index. Prices were up 0.8% MOM and are up 6.4% annually. Prices have risen 6.2% annually since bottoming in early 2012. Regionally, the Mountain states had the biggest increase, coming in at 9.5%. Even New England, historically a laggard, increased by 6.5%. The worst area – Mid atlantic – rose 4.6%.

Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 0.7% MOM and is up 5.9% YOY.

In politics, Donald Trump seemed to moderate his comments about marrying the wall with funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. Given that Republicans hold all 3 branches of government, why does Trump need Democrats? The reason is the same thing that vexed Obama: The House Freedom Caucus, who won’t support anything that doesn’t repeal Obamacare or cut spending enough. This gives Chuck Schumer and the Democrats more leverage than they would ordinarily have. Note Congress can play some accounting games to move the deadline back a couple of weeks, so this Friday isn’t necessarily a drop-dead date. A government shutdown is probably unlikely, but LOs should be thinking about ordering 4506-Ts if they need them.

Donald Trump is targeting a corporate tax rate of 15%, which will be unveiled tomorrow. House Speaker Paul Ryan is closer to 20%, and believes that 15% is too low to be revenue-neutral. While even Democrats recognize our corporate taxes are too high, they won’t get onboard anything that amounts to a tax cut. Take a look at the chart below. It has our taxes (and our competitors’) tax rates from 2000 to 2016. Pretty much everyone has cut taxes except for us. Trump will also reveal a plan for individual income taxes as well.

US taxes

Having trouble saving? There’s an ap for that. New fintech companies are micro-analyzing an individual’s earnings and spending patters, and using credit and savings sweeping to normalize their client’s income (think a freelancer or an Uber driver). Some will pay all your bills for you, and others will ensure your checking account doesn’t overdraft. Some will extend credit at high rates, however those rates are generally better than payday lenders.

Another blow for cheap new housing construction. The US is imposing tariffs on Canadian softwood exports in an ongoing trade dispute. Softwood (basically pine) is primarily used for framing in housing, so we could see lumber prices increase further. While “sticks and bricks” are not the main driver of housing construction cost, this doesn’t help matters. It is getting to be a problem when the typical starter home is unaffordable to its target market.

The MBA has rolled out its plan for the GSEs. The idea would be to turn Fannie and Freddie into public utilities and to take steps to open up the market for private mortgage guarantors. They estimate it could take up to 10 years to implement. Note the clock is ticking: As the government continues to sweep all of Fannie’s profits to Treasury, their net worth is decreasing.

6 Responses

  1. The media still tries to peddle the nonsense that it isn’t liberal – it is just coastal, rich and smart.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/25/media-bubble-real-journalism-jobs-east-coast-215048

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reason #1 gajillion about why it is so easy to hate the left

    Like

    • From the article:

      What’s feared is not a political system, but the particular ideologue running it. What’s feared is chauvinistic strongmen, not strongmen per se.

      A good description of progressivism in general. They don’t really care about how government is used. They care only about the goals it is being used to accomplish.

      Like

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