Bond Market Believes Lower Inflation Here To Stay
For the moment, the bond market is betting on lower interest rates despite a better-than-expected December Jobs report and a hotter-than-forecast CPI print. PPI, or wholesale inflation, helped reinforce the belief that inflation should continue to trend downward, a view we share but with some skepticism. Several hot spots around the world remain and a flair-up of any could adversely affect both the oil and shipping markets, thus creating inflation. For now, that has not happened, but it does remain a concern. Of additional anxiety is the massive Treasury issuance. This could push interest rates up, but again, for now, the trend is lower rates. Expectations of lower inflation and increased business confidence have also improved and there is a sense that the Fed may pull off their so-called “soft landing.” We remain cautiously optimistic. Keep a close eye on the coming earnings seasons as a tell to how the economy is performing. More on this in the coming weeks.
The drop in mortgage rates has inspired new applications as activity is picking up across all markets. Also, mortgage prices have benefited from the compression in the spread, which has been unusually high this past year and remains elevated. Banks seem to be in a better mood as we enter 2024. All of this is welcomed after a challenging 2023. The combination of Treasury rates under 4% plus tighter margins is leading to some jumbo lenders now offering rates in the 5.500% with banking.