New Home Sales Jump

By Taff Weinstein at

New Home Sales Jump

Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 16.9 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657 thousand in November of 2018.

It is the strongest reading since March 2018, supported by higher sales in the South, the Midwest and the Northeast. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 650.36 Thousand from 1963 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 1389 thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 thousand in February of 2011.

The median sales price of new homes sold was $302,400 in November, below $ 343,400 in the same month of the previous year. The average sales price also fell to $362,400 from $388,500 a year ago.

The stock of new houses for sale edged up 0.6 percent to 330 thousand in November. This represents a supply of 6 months at the current sales rate.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

What Happened to Rates Last Week?

Mortgage backed securities (FNMA 4.00 MBS) gained +47 basis points (BPS) from last Friday's close which caused fixed mortgage rates to move lower compared to the previous week.

Overview:  Mortgage backed securities which control mortgage rates, moved higher for the week (mortgage rates moved lower) on concern over a second government shutdown and a much more "dovish" Fed that market participants interpreted that they would not move on rates for at least six months (but that is not what the Fed said).  But bonds moved off of their best levels in response to a very strong jobs report as well as a very strong manufacturing report on Friday.

Government Shutdown Showdown: President Trump reached an agreement with the Democratic leadership and announced that he would agree to temporarily reopening the government for only 3 weeks and back pay would be going to government employees very quickly. Whether the 3 weeks turns into longer depends on the works of a new commission that is required to be formed as part of this deal to review all the data and proposals from agencies involved in border security. If the works of this commission lead to a new homeland security budget/bill that does include enhanced (wall) security then most likely the government will remain open past the three week period. But if not, it could be another shutdown ahead.

The Talking Fed: The FOMC kept their key interest rate unchanged in the 2.25% to 2.50% range. 
They also spent a lot of time communicating to the markets their view of using their balance sheet as a monetary policy tool. 
Here are a couple of key highlights from the policy statement:
• They are and are going to be "patient" on any further action. "In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes.''
• The case for raising interest rates has "weakened" 
• The Fed removes a statement about "some further gradual increases."
• The line about "balance of risks" is also removed, replaced by a line about policy "patience amid muted inflation and global economic and financial developments."
• The Committee continues to view changes in the target range for the federal funds rate as its primary means of adjusting the stance of monetary policy.....but
• The Committee would be prepared to use its full range of tools, including altering the size and composition of its balance sheet, if future economic conditions were to warrant a more accommodative monetary policy than can be achieved solely by reducing the federal funds rate. 
• The U.S economy is growing well but there are headwinds from overseas.
• Labor market strengthened, unemployment remained low
• Spending grew strongly, investment moderated
• Core and Headline inflation "muted" and likely to remain near 2% 
During Fed Chair Powell's live press conference, he said the government shutdown will have an "imprint" on the 1st QTR GDP but that “We don’t know the ultimate resolution of it. If that’s all there is and the shutdown is gone and there isn’t another shutdown, we’ll get most of [the lost growth] back in the second quarter.” He also said that the Brexit outcome could have major market implications.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Big Jobs Friday is here. Lets look at the Tale of the Tape!
Jobs: 
Non Farm Payrolls for January hit 304K vs est of 165K.
December was revised from 312K down to 212K
November was revised from 176K up to 196K
The more closely watched 3 month moving average is a robust 241K!!!
This is now the 100th consecutive month of job gains!!!

Wages:
The Average Hourly Earnings YOY remained at 3.2% which matched December's pace and market estimates.
The Average Hourly Earnings rose by 3 cents and is now $27.56 
Unemployment:
The survey rate ticked up from 3.9% to 4.0%. The market was expecting 3.9%
The Participation Rate increased from 63.1% to 63.2%

Manufacturing: The January ISM Manufacturing Index hit 56.6 vs est of 54.2. Prices Paid came in at 49.6 vs est of 54.5.

What to Watch Out For This Week:


The above are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week. They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages. I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises.

It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon.

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