Market Commentary 12/01/2023, Market Commentary 12/01/2023

Market Commentary 12/01/2023

Both Bonds & Stocks Rally Into December

November marked an exceptional month for both bonds and equities. Just a few weeks ago, interest rates surged above 5% and sent mortgage markets into a frenzy. Fast forward to today, and we’re witnessing the 10-year Treasury hovering around 4.25%. In addition, lenders are beginning to reduce interest rates. If this trend persists (we discussed this in previous commentaries) mortgage rates in the mid-5% range could become a reality. This is expected to entice buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines, as more affordable mortgage payments beckon.

Having said that, it’s essential to consider the reasons behind this decline in rates. One perspective is that the market anticipates the Fed will lower short-term interest rates next year as inflation subsides. While there’s cautiousness surrounding inflation, given its deep-seated presence in the economy, the consensus leans toward a more extended timeline to control it. Nevertheless, dovish Fed statements, coupled with moderating inflation data, have relaxed financial conditions as evidenced in the lower interest rates and now flourishing stock market. While there’s optimism that the Fed will engineer a soft landing, reflecting Wall Street’s current sentiment, the recent rally underscores the market’s exuberance. Our concerns are centered around the possibility of eased financial conditions rekindling inflation.

Another narrative suggests that interest rates are declining as bond traders assess the broader economy, indicating an economic slowdown. Assuming a 3% inflation rate and 1.5% GDP growth, a 10-year Treasury around 4.5% appears plausible. For now, the downward rate movement should be acknowledged and leveraged, given that borrowing costs have decreased by 0.50 to 0.75 basis points across the board. This is a significant development.

This year, regions primarily driven by the existing homes market like Southern California have faced challenges. Recently there has been a significant uptick in activity over the past few weeks, encompassing refinance, purchase, and construction loan requests. The drop in interest rates is fostering momentum, and we are encouraged by the resurgence of inquiries. After a challenging year, it’s heartening to hear the phones ringing again. To hear borrowers express enthusiasm about the prospect of interest rates stabilizing at acceptable levels. A welcome development timed for the holiday season. 

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These are the opinions of the author. For financial advice, please talk to your CPA or financial professional.