Morning Report: Surprise refi boom

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2850 -24.5
Oil (WTI) 52.746 -.94
10 year government bond yield 1.63%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.86%

 

Stocks are lower this morning on continued trade fears. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

New Zealand cut its short term interest rate more than expected, which sent sovereign yields lower overnight. The German Bund is approaching negative 60 basis points, and UK Gilts just dropped below a 50 basis point yield. All of this pushed US Treasury yields down to 1.62% overnight and we are now sitting at 1.63%. 2s-10s are at 10 basis points, and the September Fed Funds futures are now pricing in a 100% chance of a cut, with a 1/3 chance of 50 bps and a 2/3 chance of 25 bps.

 

fed funds futures

 

Mortgage rates have been falling along with the drop in yields, but they have been lagging the move. We are seeing compression high up in the rate stack, which means that the higher note rates are not improving by much. Why is that? Prepayment fears. Given the drop in rates, it is a risky bet to pay 105 for for a Fannie 4.5% coupon bond when the 2.5% are trading at par.  Those 4.5% MBS might prepay so quickly you won’t make up for that extra premium you paid. Hedging issues are also coming into play here, as MBS investors generally abhor rate volatility and we have been getting a lot of it. Bottom line, this is good news for mortgage bankers, but prepare to be disappointed when you run new scenarios. Rates are better, but not by as much as you would expect.

 

Mortgage applications increased 5.3% last week as purchases decreased 2% and refis increased 12%. On a YOY basis, refis are up 116%. Take a look at the chart of the MBA refi index below. Houston, we have a refi boom. Now if we could only do something about housing starts….

 

refi index

 

Lost in the noise about interest rates was another strong job openings report. The JOLTs job openings came in better than expected at 7.35 million and the prior month was revised upward to 7.38 million. The quits rate was flat at 2.3%.

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Morning Report: CoreLogic sees 2019 product mix as 75% purchase / 25% refi

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2605 -8
Eurostoxx index 349.68 -0.7
Oil (WTI) 51.56 -0.75
10 year government bond yield 2.72%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.48%

 

 

Stocks are lower this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

 

The NAHB Housing Market Index rebounded slightly in January, but it is still way lower than the index peak in December 2017. The recent drop in rates is helping, but affordability issues and input costs are still dogging the homebuilding industry. Lennar and KB Home still reported decent numbers, and we have yet to see builders having to offer large incentives to move inventory. The supply / demand imbalance is still solidly in favor of the builders, but affordability issues are contributing to a decline in foot traffic.

 

CoreLogic estimates that refinances will account for only 25% of all mortgage origination in 2019, the lowest in 25 years. Rate / Term refis will become even less important, as prepayment burnout has taken hold at these levels. The opportunities will be largest in cash-out, where homeowners can refinance high interest rate credit card debt, and in product swapping, where FHA borrowers with sufficient home equity will be able to refinance into a product with no MI.

 

refi share

 

The Fed’s Beige Book noted that growth is slowing, but is still decent. The language in the report changed from growth being “solid” or “strong” “moderate to modest.” Many companies noted that input prices are rising, but they are unable to pass those increases on to customers. While residential real estate is rising in price, commercial and industrial real estate is not.

 

More problems for real estate prices at the high end. Greenwich CT prices continue to fall, which is about luxury real estate prices as much as it is about the changing nature of the financial industry. Note however that prices have fallen 7.3% in San Jose. Apple is reducing hiring due to weaker than expected iPhone sales, and the fizz is pretty much out of the social media craze.