U.S. construction spending rose 0.3 percent in April as private residential construction increased at the fastest pace in six months. Overall construction spending was up 6.8 percent compared with April 2011.
Construction spending rose to an annual rate of $820.7 billion, the Commerce Department said on Friday, after an upwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in March.
Also on Friday, the Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity slipped to 53.5 from 54.8 in April, just missing expectations for 53.9. But, while the pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing slowed modestly in May, according to the report, a gauge of new orders rose to its highest in over a year. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.
What Happened to Rates Last Week?
Mortgage backed securities (MBS) gained +105 basis points from last Friday to the prior Friday which caused 30 year fixed mortgage rates to reach a new all-time low.
Mortgage rates moved lower throughout the week on heightened concerns over the banking issues in Spain and Italy as their bond yields soared to new all-time highs. This made the quality and safety of U.S. bonds very attractive to foreign investors. This added demand caused bond prices to increase and interest rates (which move in the opposite direction) to decrease.
Mortgage backed securities shot upward (causing mortgage rates to hit new all-time lows) on Friday in reaction to the much weaker than expected jobs data. The Unemployment Rate increased from 8.1% to 8.2%, but the real story was the big miss in the Non-Farm Payroll data. The market was expecting the economy to add around 150,000 new jobs but instead, it only added 69,000.
This much weaker than expected employment data caused a big-time buying spree of 10 year U.S. Treasuries and the higher yield paying Mortgage Backed Securities.
What to Watch Out For This Week:
The following 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.
Mortgage bond prices stabilize and trade sideways but with debt resolution still up the air, the volatility will remain and prices will trade sideways.
MARKET WRAP: Bond markets stabilized today and pushed higher despite better than expected news from initial claims, pending home sales and not-so-good results from the $29B 7-yr note auction. Whispers of a lower than expected 1st read on Q2 GDP could have helped to lend support to Bonds. Stocks traded higher for the most of the session but fell in the last hour of trading ahead of this evenings House vote on the debt ceiling due around 5:45pm ET. The 4% coupon jumped 47bp to end the session at 100.75. The Dow fell 62.44 to 12,240.11, the S&P 500 Index lost 4.22 to 1,300.67 while the Nasdaq was near unchanged at 2,766.25. Oil was slightly lower in after hours trading at $97.19/barrel. Along with GDP, Chicago PMI, Employment Cost Index and Consumer Sentiment will be released tomorrow.
Outgoing Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair on Friday said it may be time to think about implementing a slow increase in interest rates to make bank lending more profitable. Bair’s comments come as some bankers have been criticizing the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy, insisting that it is hurting bank profitability and is that it is impeding the lending environment. The Fed on Wednesday held interest rates at record-low levels as its controversial $600 billion bond-buying program came to an end. The central bank said it planned on keeping rates low for an “extended” period of time.
“That is an interesting debate, and I hear that from a lot of bankers that a gradual increase in interest rates could make lending more profitable and therefore provide more incentives for lending,” Bair said to reporters at the National Press Club after her last official speech as chairman of the agency. “It is an argument that the Federal Reserve board is very aware of and there is the counter argument in terms of economic impact [of raising interest rates]. Maybe it’s time to think about it a little more.”
With Mortgage Interest Rates at an all time low of 2011, the window to refinance may soon be closing.
MARKET WRAP: Mortgage finished near unchanged levels but were able to pare losses after news that a new earthquake hit Japan, which drew money out of Stocks and into the Bond markets. The 4% coupon finished at 97.78 up 6bp. The only economic report today showed that Initial Jobless Claims fell 10,000 in the latest week but the news didn’t have much of an impact on trading. Stocks suffered moderate losses after the Japan news as the Dow lost 17.26 to 12,409.49, the S&P 500 lost 2.03 to 1,333.51 while the Nasdaq dropped 3.68 to 2,796.14. Oil settled at $110.30 up $1.47. There are no economic reports set for tomorrow.
Here are some of the events affecting Maine mortgage rates today:
What Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) Are Doing Today:
The price of the FNMA 30-Year 4.0% MBS coupon opened at 102.81 this morning – the same as yesterday’s close.
At 9:30 AM, the 4.0% MBS coupon was trading at 102.63 – down 6/32 from its opening.
Remember, on mortgage backed securities (MBSs), as the price goes down, the yield goes up – and so do mortgage rates. I expect that Maine mortgage rates will be up to 0.25 points worse in price this morning as compared to yesterday.