Last week in review – (January 17 – 21, 2011)
The US dollar is starting 2011 with its value dropping relative to other currencies.
Let’s take a look at why and what this could mean for home loan rates.
- Some of the dollar’s drop is attributed to the recent strength in the euro, which has gotten a boost from some recent positive stories, like Spain and Portugal’s ability to sell debt in the bond market without crisis. But have Europe’s problems gone away? No – there will be more problems ahead for the region, and as they emerge, we should see a reversal in the euro’s strength along with improvement in the US dollar.
- Another reason for the dollar’s weakness is the Fed’s Quantitative Easing (known as QE2).
At this point, the weakening US dollar hasn’t had a big negative effect on the US bond market, but should the dollar materially weaken, it could make US-denominated assets like US bonds less valuable and desirable amongst global investors and it has been these foreign investors, like China, who have supported the US bond market for years by purchasing our debt. Remember, home loan rates are tied to mortgage backed securities, which are a type of bond. So negative news for bonds would also be bad news for home loan rates.
In housing news last week, existing home sales for December were reported much better than expected. The jump in sales is likely attributed in part to the recent trend of rising home loan rates, which has prompted many homebuyers to take advantage of the still low home loan rates. Building permits – which signal future construction – also came in better than expected last week, surging 17% in December.
The housing industry shows signs of improvement in 2011. There will still be some areas that suffer price declines, and those will be where foreclosure backlogs overhang and where unemployment rates are higher than the national average. But housing looks to have bottomed out in many areas and should see more of a pick up in the second half of 2011. And although home loan rates will likely rise slightly as the year progresses, they are still near all-time lows right now.
In the news this week (January 24 – 28, 2011)
This week includes a full load of economic reports ranging from housing and the economy – but the big event will be the Fed meeting. We’ll discuss impact of these events in next week’s report.
- The week started with a read on consumer attitudes with the Consumer Confidence report on Tuesday. That report will be followed by the Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday.
- We also saw additional housing news this week, with a report on New Home Sales in December on Wednesday and the Pending Home Sales report for December on Thursday.
- The Federal Reserve held its FOMC meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Fed’s Policy Statement released Wednesday afternoon. There’s no chance for an interest rate hike at this meeting but what the Fed says about the economy, inflation, and its Quantitative Easing program could have an impact on rates.
- Thursday’s weekly Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims Report is important, as always. Last week, Initial Jobless Claims came in below expectations and the 4-week moving average fell from the previous week. Those readings tell us the trend in the labor market is continuing to improve, albeit at a slower pace than historically seen at this stage within an economic recovery.
- We also got a read on the economic recovery with Durable Good Orders on Thursday. This report provides an update on consumer and business buying behavior on big-ticket items that are designed to last for an extended period of time, like furniture, televisions, appliances, vehicles, copy machines, and so on. It’s an interesting report, as people tend to hold back on these types of purchases when they are feeling a need to be extra conservative with their finances or feel insecure about their employment.
- The GDP report will be followed on Friday with reports on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which is the broadest measure of economic activity – and the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The ECI is one way to evaluate wage trends and the risk of wage inflation, as well as possible price pressures. This is important to the housing industry because if wage inflation threatens, it is possible home loan rates will rise through bond prices dropping.
As you can see in the chart below, bonds and home loan rates continued their negative trend to end the week worse than where they started.
I’m here to help you through the entire home-financing process – from application through closing – and to match you with a mortgage that’s perfect for your financial situation. Contact me today and let’s get started on achieving your home financing goals.
- UPDATE 1-Banks more upbeat about 2011 US loan quality (reuters.com)
- Bank of America Helps Homebuyers Choose the Right Mortgage (prweb.com)
- WRAPUP 3-US new home sales at 8-month high, loan demand down (reuters.com)