A Look Into the Markets
This past week home loan rates remain elevated despite consumer inflation being reported slightly lower than expected. Let’s discuss what happened and look at the week ahead.
Inflation Hits 3.2%
On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July at 3.2% year-over-year which was slightly lower than the 3.3% expected. What was also positive is the back-to-back 0.2% increase on a month-to-month basis. This is the slowest pace of inflation in two years.
The upcoming CPI report is one of the five reports the Fed said to watch before the next Fed Meeting in September as they decide whether to hike rates again. So, seeing this inflation reading come in slightly light may add to the notion of a Fed pause in September, especially when coupled with the recent soft Jobs Report.
There is concern inflation is going to increase in the months ahead. Why? Oil was sharply higher with the bulk of the rise in late July, where those numbers were not reflected in the CPI reading. Additionally, higher oil prices seep into food prices, which would also be on the rise.
Currently, inflation is running at a low pace and while most expect prices to come down further, oil and energy prices could be a wild card as we move into the Fall.
Moody’s Downgrades Some Banks
Rating agency Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of 10 banks last Monday, citing higher funding costs, slower loan growth and profit pressures. This is an important story to follow for mortgage and housing as it could lead to tighter credit standards for banks looking to be more conservative on lending and loan growth.
This story is yet another reason for the Fed to stop hiking rates. Tighter lending conditions are akin to Fed rate hikes and hiking rates further would only make the banking issues described above worse.
Rising Oil Prices
Oil prices are $84 and one month ago, they were just $68. This is inflationary and should the rise continue, it could be a problem. Last summer we found out how painful high energy prices are. Let’s hope we do not go back to those levels.
Fed Rate Hikes Futures
After the past couple of weeks with a soft jobs report, soft inflation reading and the downgrade to US debt, the markets are now pricing the probability of a Fed rate hike at just 9.5%. Moreover, now the markets are also pricing in 5 rate cuts in 2024, with the Fed Funds rate coming back down to 4.00%. For this to happen, we will need inflation to come down further and we may have to experience a recession in early 2024. This story will change over time, and we will be tracking it.
|Bottom Line: It would be ideal to see the 10-year Note yield move nicely back beneath 4.00%, where it is right now. If that comes to pass, we should see a resumption in the decline in mortgage rates. The opposite is true.
Looking Ahead: Next week, the minutes from the July Fed meeting will be released. It will be interesting to hear the Fed’s take on whether a pause is in the cards for September. This event, along with housing reports, could be the week’s big market movers.
Mortgage Market Guide Candlestick Chart
Mortgage bond prices determine home loan rates. The chart below is a one-year view of the Fannie Mae 30-year 6.0% coupon, where currently closed loans are being packaged. As prices increase, rates move lower and vice versa.
On the right side of the chart, you can clearly see how prices have rebounded higher, providing some relief from the multi-month rate peaks. For rates to improve further we need to see Mortgage Bonds move above 101, which has limited any improvement in pricing/rate over the past few months.
Chart: Fannie Mae Mortgage Bond (Friday August 11, 2023)
Economic Calendar for the Week of August 14 – 18
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As your mortgage professional, 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.