Market Update for the Week of September 4, 2018


The Pending Home Sales index edged down 0.7% in July, but this was after a 1.0% jump in June. Some economists say these numbers point to a small gain in August existing home sales.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 0.3% in June. But First American‘s chief economist feels “price appreciation may be slowing” with “a natural moderation in home prices, rather than a sharp decline.”

Freddie Mac‘s chief economist adds, “the economy and the labor market are very healthy right now, and mortgage rates have stabilized…. These factors should continue to create…an uptick in sales.”


SETTING MORE RECORDS… The S&P 500 ended above 2900 and the Nasdaq soared past 8,000 for the first time ever. Progress on trade helped, but the big drivers were strong corporate earnings and economic fundamentals.

Need examples? The second read on Q2 GDP moved economic growth up to 4.2%. Or how about Consumer Confidence–now at its highest level in 18 years.

Consumers are no doubt delighted to see their disposable income (income after taxes) up 5.3% from a year ago. That’s sent personal spending up 5.2% the past year to help to boost the economy.

The week ended with the Dow UP 0.7%, to 25965; the S&P 500 UP 0.9%, to 2902, and the Nasdaq UP 2.1%, to 8110.

Longer-dated bonds fell as stocks rose. The 30YR FNMA 4.0% bond ended down.17, at $101.81. Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey saw the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate barely move up. Remember, mortgage rates can be extremely volatile, so check with your mortgage professional for up-to-the-minute information.


A mortgage insurance company reports first-time homebuyers now account for 55% of mortgages originated.


MORE FACTORY ACTIVITY, MORE JOBS… U.S. financial markets were closed yesterday for Labor Day, leaving us with a shortened trading week featuring two key economic reports. Manufacturing and employment have shown new strength the past year and that’s expected to continue in August’s ISM Index of manufacturing and monthly Employment Report.

NOTE: Weaker than expected economic data tends to send bond prices up and interest rates down, while positive data points to lower bond prices and rising loan rates.


Forecasting Federal Reserve policy changes in coming months… A quarter percent rate hike this month is now a near certainty, with a second one seen for the end of the year. Note: In the lower chart, a 98% probability of change is only a 2% probability the rate will stay the same.

Current Fed Funds Rate: 1.75%-2.00%

Sep 26 2.00%-2.25%
Nov 8 2.00%-2.25%
Dec 19 2.25%-2.50%


Probability of change from current policy:

Sep 26 98%
Nov 8  6%
Dec 19 70%


There are two good reasons to tackle major tasks first thing: you get the big stuff out of the way; and the major sense of accomplishment you’ll feel gives a big boost to the rest of your day.

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Jim Passi
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