Market Commentary 6/16/2023, Market Commentary 6/16/2023

Market Commentary 6/16/2023

The Fed Delivers A Hawkish Pause

The Federal Reserve’s dot plot strongly suggests that interest rates will continue to rise in increments of 0.25 basis points, with potential hikes in both July and September. This trajectory would bring the Fed Funds terminal rate to 5.75%. However, accurately predicting the impact of further rate hikes on the economy is a difficult task. There are valid arguments both for raising interest rates and for taking a pause.

Despite some concerning economic data, the US equity market has recently experienced significant growth. Even a hawkish Fed has had little influence on cooling off this recent rally. In the face of such data, this rally creates a wealth effect and eases financial conditions. Such does not align with the Fed’s intentions. Additionally, the US consumer remains strong, evidenced by better-than-expected retail sales. The housing sector, particularly in more affordable segments, has seen a surge. Multiple offers are becoming common in spite of mortgage rates hovering around 6.00%, with rates having doubled compared to over a year ago.

The State Of The Economy

Regardless of these small successes, several manufacturing reports indicate a weakening economy. The yield curve has steepened again and weekly jobless claims have risen, all of which support the argument for a pause by the Fed. It’s worth noting that labor is a significant cost for most businesses. With a tight labor market, wages have moderated yet continue to rise. The Fed considers wage inflation and a tight labor market as factors that justify ongoing rate hikes.

The current expensive stock market, fueled by AI mania and investors trying to catch up after anticipating a market downturn, may have a positive effect on residential real estate. Investors recouping losses or utilizing gains to purchase homes can contribute to this result. Nonetheless, mortgage underwriting remains challenging. Banks are not giving money away despite higher interest rates. Our office diligently surveys over 20 lenders daily to find the best execution for prospective borrowers. With almost 20 years of experience in the industry, we can confidently say that these are some of the most challenging times. The main cause of these current challenges is the combination of a tight housing supply, the limited amount of new construction in our primary market, and the overall high cost of coastal housing markets. 

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