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Weekly Recap and the Financial Markets 03/17/17

Weekly Recap and the Financial Markets

“Just simple truth and harmony.” Glen Campbell. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen had one simple truth that was like music to Stock and Bond markets: “The simple message is the economy is doing well.”

When the Fed expectedly raised its benchmark Federal Funds Rate 0.25 percent at its March 14-15 meeting, Stocks and Mortgage Bonds both improved following the news.

The Fed’s tame read on inflation and its decision to maintain its balance sheet of existing Mortgage Bonds helped Bonds rally. Meanwhile, Stocks responded favorably to the news that the Fed is planning two additional hikes this year, eliminating some uncertainty.

The Fed Funds Rate, with a new target rate range between 0.75 to 1.0 percent, is the rate at which banks lend money to each other overnight and is not directly tied to consumer products like purchase or refinance home loans. Instead, home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bond market performance. Home loan rates can move lower when Mortgage Bonds improve and vice versa.

There was good news from the housing sector, as the Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts hit a four-month high, rising 3 percent from January to February to an annual rate of 1.288 million. Housing Starts measure when excavation begins on a new home. Starts on single-family homes rose to a near 10-year high. From February 2016 to February 2017, Housing Starts were up 6.2 percent. The increase is a welcome sign for those in the market for a home as limited inventory has driven home prices up in many areas, discouraging some buyers. Another welcome sign: The National Association of Home Builders reported that its Housing Market Index, a measure of home builder sentiment, jumped six points to the highest level in 12 years!

In economic news, wholesale inflation came in hotter than expected in February, with the year-over-year Producer Price Index reading reaching 2.2 percent, the highest since March 2012. The Consumer Price Index was in line with expectations, falling in February from January to 0.1 percent due in part to lower gasoline prices. Retail Sales also met expectations, though they did decline from January.

For those in the market for a new home or a refinance, home loan rates remain attractive.

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 8:11 am by Rob Williams

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