Morning Report: Mortgage applications lowest in 26 years

Vital Statistics:

S&P futures3,86721.75
Oil (WTI)75.05-1.89
10 year government bond yield 3.68%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 6.53%

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up.

The FOMC minutes will be released at 2:00 pm. This release could be market-moving as a lot of investors will be looking for the Fed’s rationale to raise its inflation target when the data were showing a slowdown.

Mortgage applications fell 13.2% over the past couple of weeks, according to the MBA. Purchases were down 12.2% while refis fell 16.3%. Refi activity is down 87% compared to a year ago. “The end of the year is typically a slower time for the housing market, and with mortgage rates still well above 6 percent and the threat of a recession looming, mortgage applications continued to decline over the past two weeks to the lowest level since 1996,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist. “Purchase applications have been impacted by slowing home sales in both the new and existing segments of the market. Even as home-price growth slows in many parts of the country, elevated mortgage rates continue to put a strain on affordability and are keeping prospective homebuyers out of the market. Refinance applications remain less than a third of the market and were 87 percent lower than a year ago as rates remained close to double what they were in 2021. Mortgage rates are lower than October 2022 highs, but would have to decline substantially to generate additional refinance activity.” 

Construction spending rose 0.2% MOM and 8.5% YOY in November, according to the Census Bureau. Residential construction spending fell 0.5% MOM and rose 5.3% on a YOY basis.

The manufacturing economy contracted in December, according to the ISM Manufacturing Index. The index came in at 48.4, the lowest since the early days of the pandemic. If the index comes in above 50, it is expanding, while below it is contracting. The prices index fell to 39.4, which is good news on the inflation front, while employment remained in expansion territory.

Job openings were more or less unchanged in November, according to the JOLTS job openings report. The quits rate (which tends to predict wage increases) ticked up as well.

Finally, on a personal note. I have left Ark Mortgage and am looking for a new opportunity. Any leads for a senior financial / cap markets position will be appreciated. Also, I will begin accepting advertisements on the blog. Please reach out to if you would like a mention. I plan on launching a Substack as well, where I will do a weekly deeper dive on things going on in the economy or current events. More info to follow.