The week that was:
Not much in the way of economic measurements last week; it was a four day week for the bond and mortgage markets with Veteran’s Day falling on Wednesday.
- Weekly MBA mortgage applications index was +3.2% from last week; it was all re-finances, its index up 11.3% while purchase applications dropped a huge 11.7% to its lowest level since Dec 2000. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 71.5% of total applications from 66.1% the previous week. The average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.90% from 4.97%, with points increasing to 1.03 from 1.01 (including the origination fee) for 80% LTV.
- Weekly jobless claims continued to decline last week, down another 12K for the previous week but still at 512K new unemployment claims filed.
- The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index decreased to a three-month low of 66 from 70.6 in October.
- A report from the Commerce Department showed the trade deficit widened in September by the most in a decade as rising demand for imported oil and automobiles swamped a fifth consecutive gain in exports.
The week that will be:
There are a number of key economic releases that will draw attention; retail sales and both PPI and CPI, add in housing starts and building permits along with data on the manufacturing sector and it looks like a week that could be choppy with possibly a slight back up in rates. Mortgage rates have declined everyday for the past seven sessions, can’t keep that up for much longer without some backing and filling. Monday at 12:00 brings Fed chief Ben Bernanke to the NY Economics Club. Bernanke has to walk a fine line between keeping the outlook looking favorable for the economy while at the same time keeping the bond market from worrying too much about when the Fed will have to start increasing interest rates. The huge spook in the mix now is, how will the Fed keep inflation worries at bay to assure mortgage rates will not start increasing, while cheerleading the economic recovery. No matter that these are the lowest mortgage rates in years, and some of the lowest rates in 45 yrs; the housing sector is key to keep the economy from back-sliding from the current expectations.