Tag Archives for " DJIA "

Coronavirus vs Interest Rates

coronavirus

It started in early March when, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia and Russia initiated an oil price war – tumbling prices by 34% (down to $31.73 per barrel). Today this price war continues, with crude at only $20.71 per barrel. The pandemic and oil price combination has sent the stock market into a tailspin. With equity investors continuing their flight to safe-haven holdings, the DJIA has dropped almost 30% from the Feb. 12 high of 29,551.

Although 10-Year Treasuries (the rate that typically sets the direction of fixed mortgage rates) have averaged 2.27% over the past 5 years, a record low 0.318% 10-Year yield was recently reached.

But if mortgage rates usually reduce when investors flee the stock market, why did 30-year fixed mortgage rates increase from 3.15% to as high as 4.15% during this commotion???

For several reasons due to huge uncertainty, volatility and panic – all of which increased costs to lenders… which in turn were passed on to borrowers in the form of higher mortgage rates:

  • Profits to mortgage servicing companies (who manage borrowers’ monthly payments and escrows for lenders) reduced after many mortgages were repaid/refinanced early – i.e., servicing fees to lenders increased due to uncertainty regarding underlying value and content of their serviced mortgage portfolios
  • Pools of residential mortgages (mortgage-backed securities/MBS’s) became difficult to value given the higher probability of default or forbearance – so some investors are paying less to (or have stopped buying from) the lenders who are selling mortgages
  • Lenders, who promised rate locks to borrowers and sell their loans to investors after closing, are having to pay higher fees to hedge against rising rates (to protect loan value), and are subjected to margin calls when the value of their collateral reduces from Federal Reserve Treasury Bond purchases

Here's the Point: In a market with unprecedented volatility, there are several reasons why mortgage rates actually go in a direction opposite to what you might expect.

Only The Media Knows?

It would not be far-fetched to forecast a continued stock market rally from our new President’s proposed fiscal stimulus package – earmarking funds to revitalize our country’s infrastructure and military. Coupled with imposing regulatory and corporate tax reform, the resulting inflationary pressure is likely to be curtailed by the Federal Reserve in the form of cautious interest rate hikes over time.

The DJIA was 18,333 the day before he won the election – versus almost 20,000 today. It increased by 257 points or 1.4% to 18,590 on the day of his win. The media predicted the markets would plummet with a Trump victory. The very opposite happened.

10-Year Treasuries (the benchmark generally used to predict mortgage rates) were 1.88% the day before Trump won – versus almost 2.50% today. It increased to 2.07% on the day he won (a significant one-day change). The media predicted there would be a flight to quality investments with a Trump victory – in other words, investors would convert their stock holdings into more safe-haven bonds (thus, driving bond prices up and interest rates down). The very opposite happened.

Media sources now attribute the recent market rally to the long term policies put in place by the Obama Administration. Given their prediction pattern, shall we continue to consult with the media on interest rate projections?!

A temporary stock market rally is commonplace after an election. The focus now should be on whether Trump’s policies will add inflationary pressure – which, if so, will continue to put upward pressure on rates.

Here’s the Point: At your next dinner party, think twice before confidently sharing what you think you learned from the almighty media.