Whether talking about home prices or the cost of goods and services, money is on everyone's mind.
New Home Sales fell 7.6 percent in August from July, the Commerce Department reported. The drop followed a stellar July and still landed well above expectations. From August 2015 through August 2016, sales rose a whopping 20.6 percent. There was also news on home prices: The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 5.0 percent gain in the year ended in July, just below the 5.1 percent expected.
The economy as a whole continues to trudge along. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is still running lower than what is considered healthy. The final reading on second quarter GDP rose to 1.4 percent from the earlier reading of 1.1 percent. By comparison, a reading of 2.5 to 3 percent is considered optimal. GDP measures the pace of economic activity and represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. It has averaged 2 percent since the recession ended in mid-2009 and reached 2.6 percent in the second quarter of 2015.
The inflation gauge, Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), rose 1.7 percent from August 2015 through August 2016, below the 2 percent target. Core PCE measures the change in prices of goods and services purchased by consumers throughout the economy, excluding volatile food and energy. Upticks in inflation can reduce the value of fixed investments like Mortgage Backed Securities, and hurt the home loan rates that are tied to them. While inflation is still below the Fed's target range, it will be important to watch for any future increases.
However, consumers are feeling optimistic, according to the Conference Board. Its Consumer Confidence Index soared to 104.1 in September, the highest level since before the recession began in 2008.
Forecast for the Week
Investors and the Federal Reserve will be looking to see if job creation lifts or drags the 180,000 new jobs per month average in 2016. We'll know for sure Friday.
National manufacturing data from the ISM Index will be released on Monday followed by the ISM Services Index on Wednesday.
Employment data starts with the Wednesday release of the ADP National Employment Report, followed by weekly Initial Jobless Claims Thursday.
The September Jobs Report releases Friday and includes Non-farm Payrolls, the Unemployment Rate and Hourly Earnings.
Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.
When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.
To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.
As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds remain near their best levels of the year. Home loan rates continue to hover close to historic lows.
Chart: Fannie Mae 3.0% Mortgage Bond (Friday Sep 30, 2016)