Morning Report: Bonds testing support 1/10/18

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2741.5 -10.8
Eurostoxx Index 398.0 -216.0
Oil (WTI) 63.6 .06.6
US dollar index 85.6 -0.4
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.58%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 101.75
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 102.875
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.01

Stocks and bonds are lower this morning on news that China may slow or halt its purchases of Treasuries.

Bonds are currently trading at 2.58% after Chinese officials recommended slowing or halting purchases of US Treasuries. Driving this decision are the relative attractiveness of US Treasuries and the possibility of a trade war. Between the Fed tapering their purchases of Treasuries, and potential disinvestment of the Chinese, Treasuries are heavy. Ultimately, this is about the trade deficit, which is the difference in value between what we import from China and what we export to China. The deficit is simply filled in by Treasury purchases. While a trade war is probably just saber-rattling, a drop in trade will probably mean a drop in the trade deficit, which means less demand for Treasuries. Ultimately, the US would prefer the Chinese to buy less Treasuries since that would mean they are buying more goods and services.

Note that the recent peak in the 10 year was 2.62% in March this year. We are close to breaking through support, which would probably trigger at least some technically-driven selling. We have a 10 year bond auction this afternoon at 1:00 pm EST. If we get a lousy bid / cover ratio that could be the catalyst to break through that level.

We have a lot of Fed-speak today, with Charles Evans, Robert Kaplan and James Bullard speaking.

Mortgage Applications rose 8.3% in a holiday-shortened week, as purchases rose 5% and refis rose 11%. The average contract rate for the 30 year conforming rate rose a basis point to 4.23%.

Import prices rose 0.1% MOM and 0.3% YOY, while export prices fell 0.1% MOM and rose 2.6% YOY.

Lennar reported fourth quarter earnings of $1.29 a share which missed analyst expectations. An undisclosed “one-time strategic transaction” was delayed until the first quarter, which apparently drove the miss. Revenues increased 12%, while deliveries were up 5% in units. Backlog was up 17% in units and 23% in dollars. Gross margins fell by 90 basis points to 22.4%. Lennar is also in the process of buying CalAtlantic, and that deal should close in February.

The National Association of Homebuilders projects that 653,000 new homes will be sold in 2018, an increase of 5.4% from 2017. This won’t be enough to meet demand. Lack of labor and land are the limiting factors, as well as government regulations. It seems that “urban villages” are the flavor du jour, with apartments and walkable developments that mix commercial and residential.

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