Morning Report: Fed meeting begins.

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2565 10
Eurostoxx index 342.92 -0.38
Oil (WTI) 48.4 -1.48
10 year government bond yield 2.84%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.62%

 

Stock index futures are up after yesterday’s bloodbath. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

Stocks sold off heavily yesterday as investors begin to fret about next year’s growth. Energy stocks got hammered as oil slipped below $50 a barrel, and some of the healthcare stalwarts continued their slide from last week when Obamacare was ruled unconstitutional. All of this should give the Fed an excuse to do nothing this week, but the reaction if they don’t move could be worse than if they do. FWIW, the Fed funds futures are cheating down the probability of a hike this week. We are at a 71% probability down from 80% last week. Note Donald Trump has been jawboning the Fed to take their foot off the brakes, which adds another dimension to this. The Fed is independent of politics, and if they pass on a hike this week, they run the risk of being accused of being swayed by politics.

 

Even if the Fed does increase rates tomorrow, there are ways that the sting could be taken out of it. If the dot plot moves markedly lower, that would be taken as dovish and the markets could rally. Conversely, language in the statement regarding financial markets and their forecasts could offset a hike as well. That said, the Fed wants to end its hand-holding of the markets, so they could be opaque on purpose. This meeting has the feeling of a crap shoot. The potential for surprises (and big moves in the financial markets) is much bigger at this meeting than it has been recently. Don’t forget there will be a press release after the meeting, so the potential for market movement will last for an hour after the official release. That said, the press will probably spend the whole time trying to get Powell to say something negative about Trump, so we might not hear anything interesting at all.

 

Homebuilder confidence slipped 4 points, according to the NAHB Housing Market Index. Affordability issues remain the culprit, and the confidence decreases were most prevalent in the high-income MSAs. The big West Coast / Mountain States markets have been slowing dramatically, although their high single digit / low double digit rates of appreciation were unsustainable in the first place. The withdrawal of foreign speculative money may be behind this, as it appears that China’s real estate bubble is on borrowed time and corporate defaults are on the upswing. The biggest challenge remains the lower price points, where high labor costs and regulatory costs make it difficult to keep the “affordable” in “affordable housing.”

 

Don’t forget, there is still the threat of a partial government shutdown as Democrats and Trump posture over the wall. It probably won’t affect the mortgage business – if it is a “partial” shutdown, they probably will just shut down a couple monuments in DC to make it visible, but everything else will be fine. During the last major shutdown, Ginnie Mae continued to work as normal, though the IRS did not.

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Author: Brent Nyitray

Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It's a scientific fact. - Homer Simpson

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