Fed’s Commentary Eases Bond Market As Yields Fall
Both bond prices (yields move inversely to price) and equities moved higher this week. This event was spurred by what many believe to be the end of the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking cycle. Unemployment and manufacturing data came in worse than expected. When coupled with the commentary on rising subprime auto delinquencies, signs indicate that consumers, especially those on the lower end, are reaching their financial limits. It’s hard to believe that less than two weeks ago, the markets were quite worried about the 10-year Treasury touching 5%. However, the all-important 5% threshold was breached but never did close above that critical level.
In this classic “bad news is good news” situation for both bonds and stocks, the markets have found comfort in the 10-year falling back down to around 4.5%. Assuming the 10-year stays at this level, and that mortgage term premiums shrink, it is not impossible to see mortgage rates in the mid-5s. This would be welcomed news for mortgage originators and real estate brokers alike.
It is important to note that the volatile moves in US government bonds are not healthy, which makes lending decisions quite difficult. Watching bonds move over 50 basis points in three days is rare and emblematic of the varying views on economic and geopolitical risks. The relaxation of bond yields suggests that traders were either expecting a much more hawkish Federal Chairman, that geopolitical risks are rising, or that the economy is deteriorating, as supported by the fall in oil prices.
While the world is in a heightened state of anxiety, lower rates have the potential to encourage risk-taking, refinances for real estate and businesses, as well as a renewal in purchases of big-ticket items like homes, autos, and machinery. The real estate market was frozen when conforming loans touched nearly 8% late last month, as lenders feared the 10-year would quickly run well above 5%. That risk has been significantly reduced by this week’s action in the bond market, and we are happy to report this positive development.