Morning Report: Fourth quarter GDP revised upward to 2.9%

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P futures 2623.25 8
Eurostoxx index 366.29 -1.28
Oil (WTI) 64.88 -0.37
10 Year Government Bond Yield 2.77%
30 Year fixed rate mortgage 4.45%

Stocks are lower this morning following yesterday’s sell-off. Bonds and MBS are up on the risk-off trade.

The market leaders (in other words the FAANG stocks) are getting taken to the woodshed on Facebook is down about 20% from mid-February. Is it time to rename the index fAANG?

Mortgage applications rose 4.8% last week as purchases rose 3% and refis rose 7%. Despite the jump in refis we are still at lows not seen for a decade.

Q4 GDP was revised upward by 40 basis points to 2.9% in the third and final revision. The Street was looking for an upward revision of 20 bps. Consumption was bumped up 20 bps to 4%, while the price index was unchanged at 2.3%. Inventory was increased as well. For 2017, GDP increased 2.3% compared to 1.7% in 2016.

Pending Home Sales rose 3.1% in February, according to NAR. Despite the gain, it is still over 4% lower than a year ago. That said, February 2017 was exceptionally strong. Expect to see a decrease in March, at least in the Northeast, after a series of storms.

Home Price appreciation continues as the Case-Shiller Home Price Index increased 6.3% YOY in January. Seattle led the group, increasing almost 13%, followed by San Francisco and Las Vegas. All MSAs reported year-over-year gains. The smallest increases were in the Washington DC and some of the Midwest.

Increasing real estate prices are pushing up home equity, which grew over $15,000 on average in the fourth quarter, according to CoreLogic.  It was biggest in California, where it jumped $40,000. This is the biggest increase in 4 years, and should bump up consumer spending. Since home equity is considered more permanent than stock market equity, it should affect consumer spending more.

Consumer confidence slipped a little in March, but is still at elevated levels. The tax cuts are helping to offset some of the losses in the stock market. Generally speaking, consumer confidence indices are inverse S&P indices, so expect them to fall if this sell-off continues.

As the Spring Selling Season takes shape, we are seeing the biggest home price appreciation at the middle and lower tiers of the market, where there is the biggest supply problem. While mortgage rates are rising, so far they aren’t making a dent in housing demand. Surprisingly, Moody’s thinks the tax new tax law will dampen home price appreciation about 4% over the next few years, due to the changes in the mortgage interest deduction (which will pretty much only affect the high end in certain states) and increased interest rates due to rising deficits. Perhaps. At any rate, I think the supply / demand imbalance is the biggest driver of home prices, and that will probably get worse before it gets better.

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