Feb

24

Last Week in Review

“OPINION HAS CAUSED MORE TROUBLE ON THIS LITTLE EARTH THAN PLAGUES…” Voltaire. And lately, there have been a lot of opinions about inflation being voiced from Fed officials, respected economists, and the media. But what does all this talk really mean for our economy and home loan rates? Here’s what you need to know.

On Friday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the prices US consumers pay, came in lower than expected for January. The chart below shows the year-over-year headline CPI at 2.6%, below expectations of 2.8%. What’s more, when volatile food and energy are removed from the equation, the “Core” Consumer Price Index was actually negative – and the last time that happened was 28 years ago.

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Chart: Consumer Price Index
weeklychart1182010

So, if the CPI Report shows that inflation is currently non-existent, why are so many people expressing concern? The reality is that the factors which are currently restraining inflation pressures could easily swing the other way.

In fact, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig recently said, “Fiscal policy is on an unsustainable course. The US Government must make adjustments in its spending and tax programs. It is that simple. If pre-emptive corrective action is not taken regarding the fiscal outlook, then the United States risks precipitating its own next crisis.” And part of the crisis Mr. Hoenig is warning of is the possibility of hyperinflation, which occurs when prices rise so quickly that a currency becomes worthless.

Hoenig recently reminded us that he has a framed picture of a 500,000 German mark bill in his office…which would have purchased a home in 1921, but due to sudden inflation, wouldn’t purchase a loaf of bread just two years later. Adding to the inflation talk, recent Produce Price Index Reports, which measure inflation at the wholesale level, have shown a trend higher in wholesale inflation. January’s report, for example, was significantly higher than expected, due to rising energy costs.

Also chiming in with an opinion, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser made some interesting comments regarding monetary policy and sales of assets that the Fed currently owns. Mr. Plosser stated that the Fed should begin to sell off their stockpile of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) as the economic recovery gains strength. With the Fed MBS buying program ending soon, and the Fed now potentially turning into a seller of MBS, Bond prices and home loan rates will very likely worsen over time. (More on this in the special “Video View” below…don’t miss it!)

In other news, the Empire State Manufacturing Index came in higher than expected and up from January’s reading. The report also showed business activity picking up and business leaders forecasting better economic conditions in the coming months. In addition, Housing Starts for January came in better than expected and at the highest level since July, thanks in large part to the extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit.

Bond prices were unable to improve after falling below an important technical level this week, and as a result, home loan rates ended the week worse than where they began.

MANY PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR OPINIONS ABOUT WHERE HOME LOAN RATES ARE HEADED…AND WHY. CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S MORTGAGE MARKET GUIDE VIEW FOR A SPECIAL VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS HOW AND WHY HOME LOAN RATES MOVE…AND WHAT IT MEANS RIGHT NOW.

Forecast for the Week

While it’s hard to say what opinions might be uttered this week, there will definitely be plenty of news in store.

We’ll get a look at the housing market with Wednesday’s New Home Sales Report and Friday’s Existing Home Sales Report. It will be interesting to see if these reports are looking more positive, as many buyers are working to take advantage of the Homebuyer’s Tax Credit before it expires this spring. If you want to learn more about this Tax Credit and how it might help you or someone you know – don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, I can share all the details and important timelines.

Also this week, we’ll get several reads on the health of the economy with Thursday’s Durable Goods Report – which gives us an update on consumer and business buying behavior on big ticket items that last for an extended period of time – and Friday’s Gross Domestic Product Report, which is the broadest measure of economic activity.

Tuesday’s Consumer Confidence Report and Thursday’s Initial Jobless Claims Report will also be important to watch. Last week’s Initial Jobless Claims and Continuing Claims numbers were higher than expected, showing that the labor market is still struggling. The bottom line is that while some of the recent economic reports have had encouraging signs, the economy needs to create jobs and regain consumer confidence before any positive opinions on the economy will become reality.

And as if it won’t be a week jam packed full of opinions already, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be weighing in with some thoughts of his own, as he testifies before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

As you can see in the chart below, Bonds ended the week below an important technical level. I’ll be watching closely to see if Bonds can reverse course and move higher this week, which would result in an improvement for home loan rates.

Chart: Fannie Mae 4.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Feb 19, 2010)
weeklychart22210

The Mortgage Market View…

Rates May Be Headed Up Soon…But Why?

You’ve heard a lot over the last several months about historically low home loan rates…but lately, you’ve probably been hearing the buzz that interest rates may be heading up in the near future, due in part to the Fed ending their purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities.

All of this begs the question: How and why do rates move…and what is happening right now?

The answer involves a number of factors and can seem complex. But it doesn’t have to be!

To help you understand how interest rates move, take a look at this easy to understand video. You’ll learn what the Fed has been doing to keep rates low, as well as the connection between interest rates and Mortgage Backed Securities.

Take a look at the following video now for an easy explanation:

How Rates Move – and What it Means Right Now

The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.
Economic Calendar for the Week of February 22 – February 26
Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Tue. February 23 10:00 Consumer Confidence Feb 55.0 55.9 Moderate
Wed. February 24 10:30 Crude Inventories 2/19 NA 3.08M Moderate
Wed. February 24 10:00 New Home Sales Jan 355K 342K Moderate
Thu. February 25 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 2/20 460K 473K Moderate
Thu. February 25 08:30 Durable Goods Orders Jan 1.5% 0.3% Moderate
Fri. February 26 08:30 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Q4 5.3% 5.7% HIGH
Fri. February 26 09:45 Chicago PMI Feb 59.0 61.5 Moderate
Fri. February 26 10:00 Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM) Feb 74.0 73.7 Moderate
Fri. February 26 10:00 Existing Home Sales Jan 5.50M 5.45M Moderate
Fri. February 26 08:30 GDP Chain Deflator Q4 0.6% 0.6% HIGH

The material contained in this newsletter is provided by a third party to real estate, financial services and other professionals only for their use and the use of their clients. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is not without errors.
As your trusted advisor, I am sending you the MMG WEEKLY because I am committed to keeping you updated on the economic events that impact interest rates and how they may affect you.
In the unlikely event that you no longer wish to receive these valuable market updates, please USE THIS LINK or email: curtis@kcmortgageplanner.com
If you prefer to send your removal request by mail the address is:

Mortgage Success Source, LLC is the copyright owner or licensee of the content and/or information in this email, unless otherwise indicated. Mortgage Success Source, LLC does not grant to you a license to any content, features or materials in this email. You may not distribute, download, or save a copy of any of the content or screens except as otherwise provided in our Terms and Conditions of Membership, for any purpose.

Curtis Schartz, Certified Mortgage Planner, Pulaski Bank Home Lending, Lees Summit, Overland Park, Kansas City.

Feb

19

Last Week in Review

“IT AIN’T OVER TIL IT’S OVER.” Yogi Berra. And whether you find those words deeply wise or simply puzzling…The Fed has told us repeatedly that their massive purchasing program of Mortgage Backed Securities is just about over – and this translates to home loan rates rising in the near future.

As you can see in the chart below, the amounts of Mortgage Backed Securities the Fed is purchasing are slowly dwindling, as the program is set to wrap up by March 31st, and are clearly trying to ration out the remaining portion. Last week, the Fed purchased $11 Billion in Mortgage Backed Securities, which leaves them with $66 Billion to spend out of their original $1.25 Trillion allotment. So about 95% of the total has already been spent and has purchased about 3 out of every 4 home loans during the past year. When such a large buyer leaves the market, it is very likely that prices will worsen.

This is very important because as the Fed has less money to last through the remaining months of the program, their ability to keep home loan rates low via their purchasing power will wane. And those who can take advantage of currently low home loan rates do not wait, as the clock on these historically low rates is ticking.

———————–
Chart: The Fed’s Purchase of MBS (By Month)
weeklychart1182010

Also last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke provided a speech on a number of topics, perhaps the most important of these being switching the Fed’s benchmark from the commonly watched and monitored Fed Funds Rate, to a new benchmark of “interest paid on excess reserves”. Banks are required to keep money on reserve with the Fed and may, from time to time, have an excess in those reserves, which the Fed can pay interest on. Since the Fed Funds Rate is only a “target rate”, banks can still lend money to other bank overnight at their own negotiated rate. Sometimes near the end of the trading day, banks have been lending their excess reserves out overnight for a rate that differs from the Fed Funds Rate, but is higher than interest on those reserves from The Fed. This undermines the Fed’s ability to set a reliable benchmark.

The Fed wants to fix this by using the amount of interest they pay as the new benchmark, since the Fed has total control of this rate, which should be right at or just under the Fed Funds Rate.

There is one major take-away from this discussion – it appears that the Fed is getting their ducks in a row as they prepare to push interest rates higher. And when they do increase rates, the Fed does not want any obstacles that may undermine their plan.

AND SPEAKING OF OBSTACLES THAT COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS…WATER DAMAGE CAN WREAK HAVOC ON YOUR HOME AND YOUR FINANCES, AND IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO WATCH OUT FOR DURING COLD WINTER MONTHS. CHECK OUT THE MORTGAGE MARKET VIEW ARTICLE BELOW FOR TIPS ON PROTECTING YOUR HOME!

Forecast for the Week

The financial markets will be closed on Monday in observance of Presidents Day, and in terms of economic reports, there won’t be much action until midweek. On Wednesday, we’ll get a look at the health of the housing industry with reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits for January.

It will be interesting to watch the housing reports over the next several months, as many people are acting to take advantage of currently low home loan rates that may be on the rise soon, as well as the potential of a juicy tax credit. Remember – the Homebuyers Tax Credit is only available on homes purchased with a contract date before April 30th, and the transaction must settle by June 30th.

We’ll also get an update on inflation this Thursday, as the Producer Price Index will be released. This index measures price changes for wholesalers, and prefaces the more important Consumer Price Index coming on Friday, which measures changes in the price paid by consumers for goods and services. These reports are both particularly important, as the Fed will be watching very carefully for any signs of inflation. If inflation begins to rise, the Fed will have no choice but to begin to hike rates to fight off the dangers that inflation could pose to our economy.

In addition to those reports, we’ll get our weekly look at employment through the Initial Jobless Claims data. Last week’s report showed some encouraging signs, but there is still a long way to go before we’ll see stabilization in the Unemployment Rate and some meaningful job creation. At the moment, 6.3 Million people remain unemployed for over six months – an increase of 5 million since the start of the recession in December of 2007. To reach the White House’s projection of a 6% unemployment rate by 2015, the US would need to create 225,000 jobs per month, every month, for the next five years. But that kind of long term job growth has never been seen before. The year 2006, was the only year in US history that had job gains average over 225,000. But that was for just a single year – doing it for five years may be too much of a stretch.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bond prices and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

As you can see in the chart below, Bond prices fell early last week due to weak results from the Treasury auctions, but were able to rally towards the end of the week. When Bond prices are moving higher, home loan rates are improving – so I’ll be watching out to see if the current ground can be held. If you have any questions about how home loan rates move – and if an opportunity exists that would benefit you – please don’t hesitate to call or email me.

Chart: Fannie Mae 4.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Feb 12, 2010)
weeklychart21510

The Mortgage Market View…

Keeping Your Home Safe from Water Damage

Preventing water damage in your home is important at any time of year, but particularly in the winter when the cold weather can wreak havoc on plumbing. Here are some tips to make sure your water bill is as low as it should be…and that your home is as safe and dry as it needs to be:

Pay attention to your bill: Major fluctuations in water usage from one month to the next could mean that you have a problem. Taking just a few minutes to look at your bill each month could make a big difference in your wallet!

Inspect appliances: While much of your home’s plumbing can be hidden behind walls and cabinets, most of your appliances that use water can be easily inspected for potential leaks. Each month, take the time to inspect areas around your water heater, dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, sinks, and toilets. If any hoses or seals appear old or damaged, replace them. Also, inspect and repair obvious caulking and tile grout damage. It’s a small price to pay for what could be expensive repairs later.

Inspect the sewer line: Clear away build-up and roots from around your sewer line. Obstructions in this area could create major plumbing problems in the future.

Check your water pressure annually: This is easier than it sounds. Simply purchase a pressure gauge and attach it to the hose faucet. Normal results should range from 45 to 65 pounds per square inch (psi). A reading above 65 psi is considered high and could lead to problems down the line.

Find and fix leaks quickly: Make a habit of checking the main fixtures regularly so that when something out of the ordinary occurs you will notice it and take action immediately. Sometimes, however, slow water leaks aren’t very obvious. A great way to discover hidden leaks is to look for stains in areas where water is often used. For example, if you see even small stains on the cabinet floors beneath the sink in the kitchen or bathrooms, you could have a problem. Warm spots in the floor or tiles could also be an indication of hidden water damage.

Before a vacation: The worst thing to come home to after a great vacation is major water damage. Consider turning off your water while you’re gone. For many homeowners there is a separate shut-off valve for the home that doesn’t affect your irrigation system.

The bottom line is that a little time and effort can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your home safe and dry, and your expenses at a minimum!

The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.
Economic Calendar for the Week of February 15 – February 19
Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Wed. February 17 08:30 Building Permits Jan 615K 653K Moderate
Wed. February 17 02:00 FOMC Minutes 1/27 HIGH
Wed. February 17 09:15 Industrial Production Jan 0.8% 0.6% Moderate
Wed. February 17 09:15 Capacity Utilization Jan 72.6% 72.0% Moderate
Wed. February 17 08:30 Housing Starts Jan 580K 557K Moderate
Thu. February 18 08:30 Producer Price Index (PPI) Jan 0.8% 0.2% Moderate
Thu. February 18 08:30 Core Producer Price Index (PPI) Jan 0.1% 0.0% Moderate
Thu. February 18 10:00 Index of Leading Econ Ind (LEI) Jan 0.5% 1.1% Moderate
Thu. February 18 10:00 Philadelphia Fed Index Feb 17.0 15.2 HIGH
Thu. February 18 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 2/13 430K 440K Moderate
Fri. February 19 08:30 Consumer Price Index (CPI) Jan 0.3% 0.1% HIGH
Fri. February 19 08:30 Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) Jan 0.2% 0.1% HIGH

The material contained in this newsletter is provided by a third party to real estate, financial services and other professionals only for their use and the use of their clients. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is not without errors.
As your trusted advisor, I am sending you the MMG WEEKLY because I am committed to keeping you updated on the economic events that impact interest rates and how they may affect you.
In the unlikely event that you no longer wish to receive these valuable market updates, please USE THIS LINK or email: curtis@kcmortgageplanner.com
If you prefer to send your removal request by mail the address is:

Mortgage Success Source, LLC is the copyright owner or licensee of the content and/or information in this email, unless otherwise indicated. Mortgage Success Source, LLC does not grant to you a license to any content, features or materials in this email. You may not distribute, download, or save a copy of any of the content or screens except as otherwise provided in our Terms and Conditions of Membership, for any purpose.

Curtis Schartz, Certified Mortgage Planner, Pulaski Bank Home Lending, Lees Summit, Overland Park, Kansas City, Olathe, Leawood, Liberty