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Mortgage Market Update – January 8th, 2019

Mortgage Market Update – January 8th, 2019

Recent Events Recap

Happy 2019 everyone! Trust you all had a nice season of holidays with friends and family. For those that happened to monitor financial news, you know that markets ended 2018 with a high degree of volatility, both in risk assets as well as rates A lot of this had to do with illiquidity that is typical around the holidays, but desks were pretty much fully staffed by the end of last week and the crazy price movements showed no signs of moderating. While there are quite a few cross-currents, market participants are really trying to wrap their heads around two competing themes. The first is the prospect of a global growth slowdown, exacerbated by trade tensions between the United States and China. Economic data in Asia and the Eurozone have supported this idea with indications of weakness starting to pop up in the manufacturing sectors. There has been some fear that this slowdown—particularly in China—will metastasize and potentially push the domestic economy towards recession. Last week’s significant downside miss of the Institute of Supply Managements manufacturing data dumped some fuel on those concerns and equities experienced one of their larger days of losses.

Employment and Earnings

On the other hand, a case remains for those that favor risk. The employment picture has long been a rosy one in the United States and Friday’s payrolls report was resoundingly solid—many more jobs were added to both non-farm as well as private payrolls than expected, folks that had been out of the workforce moved back in, and Average Hourly Earnings got a boost.

The Fed

Meanwhile, the Fed is trying to thread the needle with its monetary policy. Market participants have been pushing for a pause to this cycle of rate hikes and getting more aggressive in their appeal as stock prices have fallen. It wasn’t too long ago that 3 more 25 basis point hikes in 2019 was the consensus view, but that steadily faded. Now Fed fund futures are suggesting that not only will there be no hikes in 2019, but there could actually be a rate cut.

Treasuries and Rates

The 10yr Treasury yield is kicking the year off in the mid 2.60s—over 60 basis points lower than where we were just 2 short months ago. Mortgage rates have moved down in conjunction with Treasuries, though not quite to the same degree. The average 30yr mortgage rate last week was around 4.84% or about 32 basis points off the highs. Treasuries are probably due for some consolidation, and that should help mortgages catch up. Clearly, a lot going on out there folks, so communication will be key as we serve the financial needs of our valuable clients and customers. Let us know how we can help. Have a great week.

Hance Thurston
Head of Capital Markets, Southern Trust Mortgage


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