Monday, September 27, 2010

Market Recap - Week Ending September 24, 2010

The chance for additional Treasury purchases by the Fed helped mortgage rates improve early this week. Stronger than expected economic growth data trimmed the gains later in the week. The net result was that mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

As expected, the Fed made no change in the fed funds rate at Tuesday's meeting. Its statement was very similar to the last one, but investors focused on one important difference. Fed officials stated that they are "prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery." Investors interpreted this to mean that additional bond purchases by the Fed could take place in coming months. While the Fed is expected to purchase Treasury securities rather than mortgage-backed securities (MBS), increased demand for Treasuries would be favorable mortgage rates. As usual, investors immediately priced in this information, and mortgage rates improved. Of course, if this action by the Fed never becomes necessary, then mortgage rates could give back this week's gains.

The housing data released during the week generally matched expectations. While there are differences in regional performance, overall the housing market is holding steady above the lows reached during the recent financial crisis or improving modestly. August Existing Home Sales rose 8% from July. Inventories of unsold existing homes declined 1% to an 11.6-month supply. August New Home Sales were unchanged from July. August Housing Starts rose 11%, and Building Permits, a leading indicator, rose 2%. The September NAHB home builder confidence index was unchanged from August.

Next week, Consumer Confidence will be released on Tuesday. The final revision to second quarter GDP will come out on Thursday, along with the Chicago PMI national manufacturing index. GDP is the broadest measure of economic activity. Friday will be the big day with Personal Income, PCE inflation, Construction Spending, ISM manufacturing, and Consumer Sentiment. There will be Treasury auctions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

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