Wednesday, March 04, 2015

MBA: Mortgage Applications Little Changed in Latest Weekly Survey

by Bill McBride on 3/04/2015 07:00:00 AM

From the MBA: Mortgage Applications Little Changed in Latest MBA Weekly Survey

Mortgage applications increased 0.1 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 27, 2015. ...

The Refinance Index increased 1 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 0.2 percent from one week earlier.
The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 3.96 percent from 3.99 percent, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.
emphasis added
Mortgage Refinance Index Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the refinance index.

2014 was the lowest year for refinance activity since year 2000.

2015 will probably see more refinance activity than in 2014, but not a large refinance boom.

Mortgage Purchase Index The second graph shows the MBA mortgage purchase index.  

According to the MBA, the unadjusted purchase index is essentially unchanged from a year ago.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Wednesday: ADP Employment, ISM non-Manufacturing, Beige Book

by Bill McBride on 3/03/2015 07:11:00 PM

• At 7:00 AM ET, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

• At 8:15 AM, the ADP Employment Report for February. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 220,000 payroll jobs added in February, up from 213,000 in January.

• At 10:00 AM, the ISM non-Manufacturing Index for February. The consensus is for a reading of 56.5, down from 56.7 in January. Note: Above 50 indicates expansion.

• Also at 10:00 AM, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly) for January 2015.

• At 2:00 PM, Federal Reserve Beige Book, an informal review by the Federal Reserve Banks of current economic conditions in their Districts.

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales decrease to 16.2 million annual rate in February

by Bill McBride on 3/03/2015 02:36:00 PM

Based on a WardsAuto estimate, light vehicle sales were at a 16.16 million SAAR in February. That is up 5.4% from February 2014, and down 2.4% from the 16.55 million annual sales rate last month.  The comparison to February 2014 was easy (sales were impacted by the severe weather last year).

From John Sousanis at Wards Auto: February 2015 U.S. LV Sales Thread: SAAR Falls to 10-Month Low

U.S. automakers sold 1.252 million light vehicles in February, a 5.4% increase in daily sales that left the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) at a 10-month low of just 16.16 million-units.
Historic cold in parts of the country likely played a role in the shortfall, along with lower than expected fleet sales and some inventory shortages of key models.

GM was the No.1 auto seller in February, accounting for 18.5% of sales, followed by Toyota (14.4%) and Ford (14.1%).
Vehicle Sales Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the historical light vehicle sales from the BEA (blue) and an estimate for February (red, light vehicle sales of 16.16 million SAAR from WardsAuto).

This was below the consensus forecast of 16.7 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate).

The second graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967.

Vehicle SalesNote: dashed line is current estimated sales rate.

Although below consensus, this was the tenth consecutive month with a sales rate over 16 million.

The Long and Short Views

by Bill McBride on 3/03/2015 12:29:00 PM

CR Note: The following is a post I wrote in January 2007 that is hopefully worth repeating.  I warned about always being short term bearish, even though most of my posts were very bearish back then!  I was predicting a recession would start in 2007 (the Great Recession started in December 2007), however I was still optimistic about the future.

In the comments, and occasionally via email, people have expressed surprise at my positive long term outlook. This reaction is probably understandable since most of my posts have a bearish economic tone.

In my view, both history and logic suggest that the economic future will be brighter. Economic growth has been the norm, and in the long term, the markets almost always reward the bullish investor.

It's human nature to be concerned about specific events, but historically the economy has recovered quickly from trauma. Concerned about the bird flu? Look at the 1918 flu pandemic that was followed by the Roaring '20s. Concerned about an economic Depression? The Great Depression was the worst economic event in recent times, and the economy was fine after WWII.

These are serious, but relatively short term events for the general economy.

Logically this makes sense. Economic growth is dependent on innovation and population growth. And innovation will almost certainly continue. In fact, the only real threats to the long term economy are massively destructive events (like a major meteor strike) and impediments to innovation.

It's not worth worrying about very low probability events like super volcanoes or meteor strikes. However higher probability events, like the potential impact from global warming, is probably a concern. But once again, even with global warming, innovation will most likely (hopefully) save the day.

I'll discuss possible impediments to innovation in a future post.

So why are my posts generally bearish? Simple - because I am writing about the short term. And in the short term I'm concerned about the impact of the housing bust on the general economy. And a short term aberration (a recession) to the long term trend is interesting and worth discussing. Clearly I'm bearish in the short term, and I feel the "odds of a recession" in 2007 "are at least a coin flip".

But we have to guard against always being short term bearish and long term bullish. That doesn't work from an investment perspective, since we will always be cautious in each successive short term - and the sum of many short terms is the long term. Intelligent people can always make a strong short term bearish argument, so a pattern of always being short term bearish is a serious risk - just something to consider.

Luckily, as I've been noting for some time, we will probably know by mid-2007 if the housing bust is going to significantly impact the general economy. I believe it will, so the next few months should be interesting.

Best to all.

CoreLogic: House Prices up 5.7% Year-over-year in January

by Bill McBride on 3/03/2015 10:05:00 AM

Notes: This CoreLogic House Price Index report is for January. The recent Case-Shiller index release was for December. The CoreLogic HPI is a three month weighted average and is not seasonally adjusted (NSA).

From CoreLogic: Home Prices Up 5 Percent Year Over Year for December 2014

CoreLogic® ... today released its January 2015 CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI®) which shows that home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 5.7 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014. This change represents 35 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 1.1 percent in January 2015 compared to December 2014.

Including distressed sales, 27 states and the District of Columbia are at or within 10 percent of their peak. Four states, New York (+5.6), Wyoming (+8.3 percent), Texas (+8.3 percent) and Colorado (+9.1 percent), reached new highs in the home price index since January 1976 when the index starts.

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 5.6 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014 and increased 1.4 percent month over month compared to December 2014. ...

We continue to see a strong and progressive uptick in home prices as we enter 2015. We project home prices will continue to rise throughout the year and into 2016,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “A dearth of supply in many parts of the country is a big factor driving up prices. Many homeowners have taken advantage of low rates to refinance their homes, and until we see sustained increases in income levels and employment they could be hunkered down so supplies may remain tight. Demand has picked up as low mortgage rates and the cut in the FHA annual insurance premium reduce monthly payments for prospective homebuyers.”
emphasis added
CoreLogic House Price Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the national CoreLogic HPI data since 1976. January 2000 = 100.

The index was up 1.1% in January, and is up 5.7% over the last year.

This index is not seasonally adjusted, and this was a solid month-to-month increase.

CoreLogic YoY House Price IndexThe second graph is from CoreLogic. The year-over-year comparison has been positive for thirty five consecutive months suggesting house prices bottomed early in 2012 on a national basis (the bump in 2010 was related to the tax credit).

The YoY increase has mostly moved sideways over the last six months.

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