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Here’s an inside look at local housing markets across the country

Local markets spotlights 5 different areas across the country, showcasing what is uniquely happening in those housing markets.
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Local markets spotlights 5 different areas across the country, showcasing what is uniquely happening in those housing markets. Local real estate agents, loan officers and appraisers share what characteristics are currently defining their housing markets.

Conway, Arkansas

Some might call Conway, Arkansas, a bedroom community of Little Rock — the state’s capital. But, local RE/MAX Elite agent, Laura Davis, says that the city of roughly 67,000 people is so much more. “It’s a standalone city,” the Arkansas native said. “It has been a great city to work in because it is incredibly safe, and there is a steady stream of people that want to live here because the surrounding communities have great schools and some good colleges and there is a decent amount of job growth.”

While the median listing price in Conway is still below the national average, in December it was up 7.7% year-over-year to $210,000, according to Realtor.com. “The prices of homes here are steadily increasing, and it is very hard for first-time homebuyers. Starter homes are virtually non-existent, and there are a lot of investors purchasing homes at the lower price points,” Davis said. Due to this, Davis said that homebuyers have to come to the table with more money than they used to and need to be prepared to deal with bidding wars. With inventory remaining tight and demand still strong, Davis only sees this trend increasing as we get further into spring.

Rochester, New York

High Falls district in Rochester New York under cloudy summer sk

After experiencing a housing market that agents said left them “breathless” in 2021, Rochester real estate professionals are preparing to tackle the spring housing surge yet again. Like elsewhere in the country, Rochester is experiencing a record low level of inventory combined with a heightened demand for housing.

“People are staying in their existing homes longer so less inventory is hitting the market, and there just aren’t enough starter homes being built, so we are struggling with that too” Mark Siwiec, a local Keller Williams agent, said. While record low mortgage rates have been driving more first-time homebuyers to the housing market in Rochester, the city is also seeing a lot of so-called boomerang buyers who grew up in Rochester but moved away.

“We are seeing a decent amount of boomerang buyers, who, due to job changes or just being able to work remotely, are able to return home,” Mandy Friend Gigliotti, another local Keller Williams agent said. “Truthfully, Rochester is just a beautiful place and a great place to raise a family. There are so many amenities, there is not a lot of traffic and the culture is really strong here.”

Burlington, Vermont 

Burlington, Vermont, USA

Stunning lake views, the vibrancy of a college town and easy to access world-class ski resorts, it is simple to see why Burlington has long been a sought-after destination for homebuyers. “Burlington has seen an influx of people even prior to COVID–19,” Claire Kavanagh, a local eXp Realty agent said. “COVID-19 kind of ramped things up even more. It has been very competitive for two plus years now.”

This, of course, has resulted in rising home prices. While the median home sale price in December 2021 was lower than in 2020, in November, sales prices hit a five-year high of $482,500, according to Redfin. Local agents say these rising prices are not stopping buyers from Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey and California from flocking to the northern New England city. Kavanagh said that many of their out-of-state clients are looking to escape challenging environmental conditions exacerbated by climate change. “A lot of my buyers are moving from California, and for a lot of these folks, fires are a big reason they are coming this way,” she explained.

Paradise, California

Road and street with palm trees.

In November 2018, Paradise — a 144-year-old town that sits in the Sierra Foothills above the northeastern Sacramento Valley — was nearly destroyed by the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in the history of the state. “Every home, every little business, there were a few that made it along the main streets, but other than that, at least 95–98% of the residential housing in the area was gone,” local eXp Realty agent, Mike Stearns, said.

Prior to the fire, the town’s population was nearly 27,000; yet, by the end of 2019, just 4,608 people called the town home. However, by early 2021 the town’s population was already on the rise with roughly 6,000 people residing in Paradise. While the threat of fire still looms over Paradise, for some prospective home- buyers the median home sales price of $469,000 in December is too good to pass up. “I think that [the threat of fire] is the biggest hurdle in getting people to go back or getting new people to the area,” Shane Collins, a RE/MAX agent, in the neighboring city of Chico, said. “The people who do end up buying here, it is slightly more affordable and that kind of pushes them into deciding to buy here.”

Columbus, Ohio 

Downtown Columbus Ohio Skyline

Like Rochester, Columbus has seen an influx of boomerang buyers thanks to the increase in remote and work-from-home flexibility brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local agents say the city’s small-town feel combined with big-city amenities like an NHL team, a vibrant arts district and a Big Ten university football team are exactly why these homebuyers are returning. The metro area’s relatively affordable median home sale price of $235,000, according to Redfin, doesn’t hurt either. Realtor.com named Columbus its number five housing market positioned for growth in 2022, and iBuyer Offerpad launched its services there last fall.

“There are many factors that make Columbus an exciting real estate market for Offerpad, including the area’s population growth spurred by its job market history and outlook,” Todd Bird, the general manager of Offerpad’s Columbus market, said in an email. “The Columbus metro attracts teh manufacturers, retail headquarters, medical research facilities and other job creators; Intel recently announced business plans that will bring thousands of new jobs to the area. This feeds into the organic real estate movement in the area and reinforces key points that made Columbus attractive to Offerpad even before our start in the area.”

Local Markets was originally featured in the April Issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.

The post Here’s an inside look at local housing markets across the country appeared first on HousingWire.

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Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

US stock futures rebounded from Monday’s modest losses and traded near session highs…

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Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

US stock futures rebounded from Monday's modest losses and traded near session highs after China reduced quarantine times for inbound travelers by half - to seven days of centralized quarantine and three days of health monitoring at home -  the biggest shift yet in a Covid-19 policy that has left the world’s second-largest economy isolated as it continues to try and eliminate the virus. The move, which fueled optimism about stronger economic growth and boosted appetite for both commodities and risk assets, sent S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 contracts higher by 0.6% each at 7:15 a.m. in New York, setting up heavyweight technology stocks for a rebound. Mining and energy shares led gains in Europe’s Stoxx 600 and an Asian equity index erased losses to climb for a fourth session. 10Y TSY yields extended their move higher rising to 3.25% or about +5bps on the session, while the dollar and bitcoin were flat, and oil and commodity-linked currencies strengthened.

In premarket trading, the biggest mover was Kezar Life Sciences which soared 85% after reporting positive results for its lupus drug. On the other end, Robinhood shares fell 3.2%, paring a rally yesterday sparked by news that FTX is exploring whether to buy the company. In a statement, FTX head Sam Bankman-Fried said he is excited about the firm’s business prospects, but “there are no active M&A conversations with Robinhood." Here are some of the other most notable premarket movers"

  • Playtika (PLTK US) shares rallied 11% in premarket trading after a report that private equity firm Joffre Capital agreed to acquire a majority stake in the gaming company from a Chinese investment group for $21 a share.
  • Nike (NKE US) shares fell 2.3% in US premarket trading, with analysts reducing their price targets after the company gave a downbeat forecast for gross margin and said it was being cautious in its outlook for the China market.
  • Spirit Airlines (SAVE US) shares rise as much as 5% in US premarket trading after JetBlue boosted its all-cash bid in response to an increased offer by rival suitor Frontier in the days before a crucial shareholder vote.
  • Snowflake (SNOW US) rises 3.3% in US premarket trading after Jefferies upgraded the stock to buy from hold, saying its valuation is now “back to reality” and offers a good entry point given the software firm’s long-term targets.
  • Sutro Biopharma (STRO US) shares rise 34% in US premarket trading after the company and Astellas said they will collaborate to advance development of immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates, which are a modality for treating tumors and designed to boost anti-cancer activity.
  • State Street (STT US) shares could be in focus after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to hold, while lowering EPS estimates and price targets across interest rate sensitive coverage of trust banks and online brokers.
  • US bank stocks may be volatile during Tuesday’s trading session after the lenders announced a wave of dividend increases following last week’s successful stress test results.

Stock rallies have proved fleeting this year as higher borrowing costs to fight inflation restrain economic activity in a range of nations. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde affirmed plans for an initial quarter-point increase in interest rates in July, but said policy makers are ready to step up action to tackle record inflation if warranted. Some analysts also argue still-bullish earnings estimates are too optimistic. Earnings revisions are a risk with the US economy set to slow next year, though China emerging from Covid strictures could act as a global buffer, according to Lorraine Tan, Morningstar director of equity research.

“You got a US slowdown in 2023 in terms of growth, but you have China hopefully coming out of its lockdowns,” Tan said on Bloomberg Radio.

In Europe, stocks are well bid with most European indexes up over 1%. Euro Stoxx 50 rose as much as 1.2% before drifting off the highs. Miners, energy and auto names outperform. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources sub-index rises as much as 3.5% led by heavyweights Rio Tinto and Anglo American, as well as Polish copper producer KGHM and Finnish forestry companies Stora Enso and UPM- Kymmene. Iron ore and copper reversed losses after China eased its quarantine rules for new arrivals, while oil gained for a third session amid risks of supply disruptions. Iron ore in Singapore rose more than 4% after being firmly lower earlier in the session, while copper and other base metals also turned higher. Here are the biggest European movers:

  • Luxury stocks climb boosted by an easing of Covid-19 quarantine rules in the key market of China. LVMH shares rise as much as 2.5%, Richemont +3.1%, Kering +3%, Moncler +3%
  • Energy and mining stocks are the best-performing groups in the rising Stoxx Europe 600 index amid commodity gains. Shell shares rise as much as 3.8%, TotalEnergies +2.7%, BP +3.4%, Rio Tinto +4.6%, Glencore +3.9%
  • Banco Santander shares rise as much as 1.8% after a report that the Spanish bank has hired Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs for its bid to buy Mexico’s Banamex.
  • GN Store Nord shares gain as much as 4.2% after Nordea resumes coverage on the hearing devices company with a buy rating.
  • Swedish Match shares rise as much as 4% as Philip Morris International’s offer document regarding its bid for the company has been approved and registered by the Swedish FSA.
  • Wise shares decline as much as 15%, erasing earlier gains after the fintech firm reported full- year earnings. Citi said the results were “mixed,” with strong revenue growth being offset by lower profitability.
  • UK water stocks decline as JPMorgan says it is turning cautious on the sector on the view that future regulated returns could surprise to the downside, in a note cutting Severn Trent to underweight. Severn Trent shares fall as much as 6%, Pennon -7.7%, United Utilities -2.3%
  • Akzo Nobel falls as much as 4.5% in Amsterdam trading after the paint maker announced the appointment of former Sulzer leader Greg Poux-Guillaumeas chief executive officer, succeeding Thierry Vanlancker.
  • Danske Bank shares fall as much as 4%, as JPMorgan cut its rating on the stock to underweight, saying in a note that risks related to Swedish property will likely create some “speed bumps” for Nordic banks though should be manageable.

In the Bavarian Alps, limiting Russia’s profits from rising energy prices that fuel its war in Ukraine have been among the main topics of discussion at a Group of Seven summit. G-7 leaders agreed that they want ministers to urgently discuss and evaluate how the prices of Russian oil and gas can be curbed.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased earlier losses as China’s move to ease quarantine rules for inbound travelers bolstered sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 0.6% after falling by a similar magnitude. The benchmark is set for a fourth day of gains, led by the energy and utilities sectors. BHP and Toyota contributed the most to the gauge’s advance, while China’s technology firms were among the biggest losers as a plan by Tencent’s major backer to further cut its stake fueled concern of more profit-taking following a strong rally.   A move by Beijing to cut quarantine times for inbound travelers by half is helping cement gains which have made Chinese shares the world’s best-performing major equity market this month. The nation’s stocks are approaching a bull market even as their recent rise pushes them to overbought levels.

Still, the threat of a sharp slowdown in the world’s largest economy may pose a threat to the outlook. “US recession risk is still there and I think that’ll obviously have impact on global sectors,” Lorraine Tan, director of equity research at Morningstar, said on Bloomberg TV. “Even if we do get some China recovery in 2023, which could be a buffer for this region, it’s not going to offset the US or global recession.”  Most stock benchmarks in the region finished higher following China’s move to ease its travel rules. Main equity measures in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia rose while those in Taiwan and India fell. Overall, Asian stocks are on course to complete a monthly decline of about 4%.   

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China pledged to keep monetary policy supportive to help the nation’s economy. It signaled that stimulus would likely focus on boosting credit rather than lowering interest rates.

Japanese stocks gained as investors adjusted positions heading into the end of the quarter.  The Topix Index rose 1.1% to 1,907.38 as of the market close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7% to 27,049.47. Toyota Motor contributed most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.2%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,736 rose and 374 fell, while 60 were unchanged. “As the end of the April-June quarter approaches, there is a tendency for institutional investors to rebalance,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley. “It will be easier to buy into cheap stocks, which is a factor that will support the market in terms of supply and demand.”

India’s benchmark stock gauge ended flat after trading lower for most of the session as investors booked some profits after a three-day rally.  The S&P BSE Sensex closed little changed at 53,177.45 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index gained 0.1%.  Six of the the 19 sector sub-gauges compiled by BSE Ltd. dropped, led by consumer durables companies, while oil & gas firms were top performers.  ICICI Bank was among the prominent decliners on the Sensex, falling 1%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 17 rose and 13 fell.

In rates, fixed income sold off as treasuries remained under pressure with the 10Y yield rising as high as 3.26%, following steeper declines for euro-zone and UK bond markets for second straight day and after two ugly US auctions on Monday. Yields across the curve are higher by 2bp-5bp led by the 7-year ahead of the $40 billion auction. In Europe, several 10-year yields are 10bp higher on the day after comments by an ECB official spurred money markets to price in more policy tightening. WI 7Y yield at around 3.32% exceeds 7-year auction stops since March 2010 and compares with 2.777% last month. Monday’s 5-year auction drew a yield more than 3bp higher than its yield in pre-auction trading just before the bidding deadline, a sign dealers underestimated demand. Traders attributed the poor results to factors including short base eroded by last week’s rally, recently elevated market volatility discouraging market-making, and sub-par participation during what is a popular vacation week in the US. Focal points for US session include 7-year note auction at 1pm ET; a 5-year auction Monday produced notably weak demand metrics.

The belly of the German curve underperformed as markets focus  on hawkish comments from ECB officials: 5y bobl yields rose 10 bps near 1.46%, red pack euribors dropped 10-13 ticks and ECB-dated OIS rates priced in 163 basis points of tightening by year end.

In FX, Bloomberg dollar spot index is near flat as the greenback reversed earlier losses versus all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen while commodity currencies were the best performers. The euro rose above $1.06 before paring gains after ECB Governing Council member Martins Kazaks said the central bank should consider a first rate hike of more than a quarter-point if there are signs that high inflation readings are feeding expectations. Money markets ECB raised tightening wagers after his remarks. ECB President Lagarde later affirmed plans for an initial quarter-point increase in interest rates in July but said policy makers are ready to step up action to tackle record inflation if warranted. The ECB is likely to drain cash from the banking system to offset any bond purchases made to restrain borrowing costs for indebted euro-area members, Reuters reported, citing two sources it didn’t identify.

Elsewhere, the pound drifted against the dollar and euro after underperforming Monday, with focus on quarter-end flows, lingering Brexit risks and the UK economic outlook. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon due to speak later on how she plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence by the end of next year. The yen gave up an Asia session gain versus the dollar as US equity futures reversed losses. The Australian dollar rose after China cut its mandatory quarantine period to 10 days from three weeks for inbound visitors in its latest Covid-19 guidance. JPY was the weakest in G-10, drifting below 136 to the USD.

In commodities, oil rose for a third day with global output threats compounding already red-hot markets for physical supplies and as broader financial sentiment improved. Brent crude breached $117 a barrel on Tuesday, but some of the most notable moves in recent days have been in more specialist market gauges. A contract known as the Dated-to-Frontline swap -- an indicator of the strength in the key North Sea market underpinning much of the world’s crude pricing -- hit a record of more than $5 a barrel. The rally comes amid growing supply outages in Libya and Ecuador, exacerbating ongoing market tightness.

Oil prices also rose Tuesday as broader sentiment was boosted by China’s move to cut in half the time new arrivals must spend in isolation, the biggest shift yet in its pandemic policy. Meanwhile, the G-7 tasked ministers to urgently discuss an oil price cap on Russia. 

Finally, the prospect of additional supply from two of OPEC’s key producers also looks limited. On Monday Reuters reported that French President Emmanuel Macron told his US counterpart Joe Biden that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are already pumping almost as much as they can.

In the battered metals space, LME nickel rose 2.7%, outperforming peers and leading broad-based gains in the base-metals complex. Spot gold rises roughly $3 to trade near $1,826/oz

Looking to the day ahead now, data releases include the FHFA house price index for April, the advance goods trade balance and preliminary wholesale inventories for May, as well as the Conference Board’s consumer confidence for June and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Elderson and Panetta, the Fed’s Daly, and BoE Deputy Governor Cunliffe. Finally, NATO leaders will be meeting in Madrid.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,922.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 417.65
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 162.36
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 539.85
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 27,049.47
  • Topix up 1.1% to 1,907.38
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.9% to 22,418.97
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,409.21
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 52,990.39
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 6,763.64
  • Kospi up 0.8% to 2,422.09
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 1.62%
  • Euro little changed at $1.0587
  • Brent Futures up 1.4% to $116.65/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,828.78
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.89

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • In Tokyo’s financial circles, the trade is known as the widow- maker. The bet is simple: that the Bank of Japan, under growing pressure to stabilize the yen as it sinks to a 24-year low, will have to abandon its 0.25% cap on benchmark bond yields and let them soar, just as they already have in the US, Canada, Europe and across much of the developing world
  • Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco may leave his post in October, paving the way for the appointment of a high profile executive close to Premier Mario Draghi, daily Il Foglio reported
  • NATO is set to label China a “systemic challenge” when it outlines its new policy guidelines this week, while also highlighting Beijing’s deepening partnership with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter
  • The PBOC pledged to keep monetary policy supportive to aid the economy’s recovery, while signaling that stimulus would likely focus on boosting credit rather than lowering interest rates

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were mixed with the region partially shrugging off the lacklustre handover from the US. ASX 200 was kept afloat with energy leading the gains amongst the commodity-related sectors. Nikkei 225 swung between gains and losses with upside capped by resistance above the 27K level. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were pressured amid weakness in tech and lingering default concerns as Sunac plans discussions on extending a CNY bond and with Evergrande facing a wind-up petition.

Top Asian News

  • China is to cut quarantine time for international travellers, according to state media cited by Reuters.
  • Shanghai Disneyland (DIS) will reopen on June 30th, according to Reuters.
  • PBoC injected CNY 110bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate at 2.10% for a CNY 100bln net daily injection.
  • China's state planner official said China faces new challenges in stabilising jobs and prices due to COVID and risks from the Ukraine crisis, while the NDRC added they will not resort to flood-like stimulus but will roll out tools in its policy reserve in a timely way to cope with challenges, according to Reuters.
  • China's state planner NDRC says China is to cut gasoline and diesel retail prices by CNY 320/tonne and CNY 310/tonne respectively from June 29th.
  • BoJ may have been saddled with as much as JPY 600bln in unrealised losses on its JGB holdings earlier this month, as a widening gap between domestic and overseas monetary policy pushed yields higher and prices lower, according to Nikkei.

European bourses are firmer as sentiment picked up heading into the cash open amid encouraging Chinese COVID headlines. Sectors are mostly in the green with no clear theme. Base metals and Energy reside as the current winners and commodities feel a boost from China’s COVID updates. Stateside, US equity futures saw a leg higher in tandem with global counterparts, with the RTY narrowly outperforming. Twitter (TWTR) in recent weeks provided Tesla (TSLA) CEO Musk with historical tweet data and access to its so-called fire hose of tweets, according to WSJ sources.

Top European News

  • UK lawmakers voted 295-221 to support the Northern Ireland Protocol bill in the first of many parliamentary tests it will face during the months ahead, according to Reuters.
  • Scotland's First Minister Sturgeon will set out a plan today for holding a second Scottish Independence Referendum, according to BBC News.
  • ECB’s Kazaks Says Worth Looking at Larger Rate Hike in July
  • G-7 Latest: Leaders Want Urgent Evaluation of Energy Price Caps
  • Ex- UBS Staffer Wants Payout for Exposing $10 Billion Swiss Stash
  • SocGen Blames Clifford Chance in $483 Million Gold Suit
  • GSK’s £40 Billion Consumer Arm Picks Citi, UBS as Brokers
  • Russian Industry Faces Code Crisis as Critical Software Pulled

ECB

  • ECB's Lagarde said inflation in the euro area is undesirably high and it is projected to stay that way for some time to comeFragmentation tool, via the ECB.
  • ECB's Kazaks said 25bps in July and 50bps in September is the base case, via Bloomberg TV. Kazaks said it is worth looking at a 50bps hike in July and front-loading hikes might be reasonable. Fragmentation risks should not stand in the way of monetary policy normalisation. If necessary, the ECB will come up with tools to address fragmentation.
  • ECB's Wunsch said he is comfortable with a 50bps hike in September; adds that 200bps of hikes are needed relatively fast, and anti-fragmentation tool should have no limits if market moves are unwarranted, via Reuters.
  • Bank of Italy said Governor Visco's resignation is not on the table, according to a spokesperson cited by Reuters.

Fixed Income

  • Bond reversal continues amidst buoyant risk sentiment, hawkish ECB commentary and supply.
  • Bunds lose two more big figures between 146.80 peak and 144.85 trough, Gilts down to 112.06 from 112.86 at best and 10 year T-note retreats within 117-01/116-14 range

FX

  • DXY regroups on spot month end as yields rally and rebalancing factors offer support - index within 103.750-104.020 range vs Monday's 103.660 low.
  • Euro continues to encounter resistance above 1.0600 via 55 DMA (1.0614 today); Yen undermined by latest bond retreat and renewed risk appetite - Usd/Jpy eyes 136.00 from low 135.00 area and close to 134.50 yesterday.
  • Aussie breaches technical and psychological resistance with encouragement from China lifting or easing more Covid restrictions - Aud/Usd through 10 DMA at 0.6954.
  • Loonie and Norwegian Krona boosted by firm rebound in oil as France fans supply concerns due to limited Saudi and UAE production capacity - Usd/Cad sub-1.2850 and Eur/Nok under 10.3500.
  • Yuan receives another PBoC liquidity boost to compliment positive developments on the pandemic front, but Rand hampered by latest power cut warning issued by SA’s Eskom

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent futures were bolstered in early European hours amid encouragement seen from China's loosening of COVID restrictions.
  • Spot gold is uneventful, around USD 1,825/oz in what has been a sideways session for the bullion since the reopening overnight.
  • Base metals are posting broad gains across the complex - with LME copper back above USD 8,500/t amid China-related optimism.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: May Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$105b, prior -$105.9b, revised -$106.7b
  • 08:30: May Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 2.1%, prior 2.2%
    • May Retail Inventories MoM, est. 1.6%, prior 0.7%
  • 09:00: April S&P CS Composite-20 YoY, est. 21.15%, prior 21.17%
  • 09:00: April S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.95%, prior 2.42%
  • 09:00: April FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.4%, prior 1.5%
  • 10:00: June Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 100.0, prior 106.4
    • Conf. Board Expectations, prior 77.5; Present Situation, prior 149.6
  • 10:00: June Richmond Fed Index, est. -5, prior -9

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

It's been a landmark night in our household as last night was the first time the 4-year-old twins slept without night nappies. So my task this morning after I send this to the publishers is to leave for the office before they all wake up so that any accidents are not my responsibility. Its hopefully the end of a near 7-year stretch of nappies being constantly around in their many different guises and states of unpleasantness. Maybe give it another 30-40 years and they'll be back.

Talking of unpleasantness, as we near the end of what’s generally been an awful H1 for markets, yesterday saw the relief rally from last week stall out, with another bond selloff and an equity performance that fluctuated between gains and losses before the S&P 500 (-0.30%) ended in negative territory.

In terms of the specific moves, sovereign bonds lost ground on both sides of the Atlantic, with yields on 10yr Treasuries up by +7.0bps following their -9.6bps decline from the previous week. That advance was led by real rates (+9.6bps), which look to have been supported by some decent second-tier data releases from the US during May yesterday. The preliminary reading for US durable goods orders surprised on the upside with a +0.7% gain (vs. +0.1% expected). Core capital goods orders also surprised on the upside with a +0.8% advance (vs. +0.2% expected). And pending home sales were unexpectedly up by +0.7% (vs. -4.0% expected). Collectively that gave investors a bit more confidence that growth was still in decent shape last month, which is something that will also offer the Fed more space to continue their campaign of rate hikes into H2. This morning 10yr USTs yields have eased -2.45 bps to 3.17% while 2yr yields (-4 bps) have also moved lower to 3.08%, as we go to press.

Staying at the front end, when it comes to those rate hikes, if you look at Fed funds futures they show that investors are still only expecting them to continue for another 9 months, with the peak rate in March or April 2023 before markets are pricing in at least a full 25bps rate cut by end-2023 from that point. I pointed out in my chart of the day yesterday (link here) that the median time historically from the last hike of the cycle to the first cut was only 4 months, and last time it was only 7 months between the final hike in December 2018 and the next cut in July 2019. So it wouldn’t be historically unusual if Fed funds did follow that pattern whether that fits my view or not.

Over in Europe yesterday there was an even more aggressive rise in yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+10.9bps), OATs (+11.0bps) and BTPs (+9.1bps) all rising on the day as they bounced back from their even larger declines over the previous week. That came as investors pared back their bets on a more dovish ECB that they’d made following the more negative tone last week, and the rate priced in by the December ECB meeting rose by +8.5bps on the day.

For equities, the major indices generally fluctuated between gains and losses through the day. The S&P 500 followed that pattern and ultimately fell -0.30%, which follows its best daily performance in over 2 years on Friday Quarter-end rebalancing flows seem set to drive markets back-and-forth price this week. Even with the decline yesterday, the index is +6.36% higher since its closing low less than a couple of weeks ago. And over in Europe, the STOXX 600 (+0.52%) posted a decent advance, although that masked regional divergences, including losses for the CAC 40 (-0.43%) and the FTSE MIB (-0.86%).

Energy stocks strongly outperformed in the index, supported by a further rise in oil prices that left both Brent crude (+1.74%) and WTI (+1.81%) higher on the day. G7 ministers reportedly agreed to explore a cap on Russian gas and oil exports, with the official mandate expected to be announced today, but it would take time for any mechanism to be developed. The impact on global oil supply is not clear: if Russia retaliates supply could go down, if this enables other third parties to import more Russian oil supply could go up. Elsewhere, political unrest in Libya and Ecuador could simultaneously hit oil supply. In early Asian trading, oil prices continue to move higher, with Brent futures up +1.13% at $116.39/bbl and WTI futures gaining +1% to just above the $110/bbl level.

Asian equity markets are struggling a bit this morning. The Hang Seng (-1.00%) is the largest underperformer amid a weakening in Chinese tech stocks whilst the Nikkei (-0.15%), Shanghai Composite (-0.15%) and CSI (-0.19%) are trading in negative territory in early trade. Elsewhere, the Kospi (-0.05%) is just below the flatline. US stock futures are slipping with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.12%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.18%) both slightly lower.

In central bank news, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Yi Gang pledged to provide additional monetary support to the economy to recover from Covid outbreaks and lockdowns and other stresses. In a rare interview conducted in English, the central bank chief did caution though that the real interest rate is low thereby indicating limited room for large-scale monetary easing.

Turning to geopolitical developments, the G7 summit continued in Germany yesterday, and in a statement it said they would “further intensify our economic measures against Russia”. Separately, NATO announced that it will increase the number of high readiness forces to over 300,000, with the alliance’s leaders set to gather in Madrid from today. And we’re also expecting a new round of nuclear talks with Iran to take place at some point this week, something Henry mentioned in his latest Mapping Markets out yesterday (link here), which if successful could in time pave the way for Iranian oil to return to the global market.

Finally, whilst there were some decent May data releases from the US, the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for June fell to a 2-year low of -17.7 (vs. -6.5 expected).

To the day ahead now, and data releases include Germany’s GfK consumer confidence for July, French consumer confidence for June, whilst in the US there’s the FHFA house price index for April, the advance goods trade balance and preliminary wholesale inventories for May, as well as the Conference Board’s consumer confidence for June and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Elderson and Panetta, the Fed’s Daly, and BoE Deputy Governor Cunliffe. Finally, NATO leaders will be meeting in Madrid.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 08:00

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Is Bitcoin Really A Hedge Against Inflation?

The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

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The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

This is an opinion editorial by Jordan Wirsz, an investor, award-winning entrepreneur, author and podcast host.

Bitcoin’s correlation to inflation has been widely discussed since its inception. There are many narratives surrounding bitcoin’s meteoric rise over the last 13 years, but none so prevalent as the debasement of fiat currency, which is certainly considered inflationary. Now Bitcoin’s price is declining, leaving many Bitcoiners confused, as inflation is the highest it’s been in more than 40 years. How will inflation and monetary policy impact bitcoin’s price?

First, let’s discuss inflation. The Federal Reserve’s mandate includes an inflation target of 2%, yet we just printed an 8.6% consumer price inflation number for the month of May 2022. That is more than 400% of the Fed’s target. In reality, inflation is likely even higher than the CPI print. Wage inflation isn’t keeping up with actual inflation and households are starting to feel it big time. Consumer sentiment is now at an all-time low.

(Source)

Why isn’t bitcoin surging while inflation is running out of control? Although fiat debasement and inflation are correlated, they truly are two different things that can coexist in juxtaposition for periods of time. The narrative that bitcoin is an inflation hedge has been widely talked about, but bitcoin has behaved more as a barometer of monetary policy than of inflation.

Macro analysts and economists are feverishly debating our current inflationary environment, trying to find comparisons and correlations to inflationary periods in history — such as the 1940s and the 1970s — in an effort to forecast where we go from here. While there are certainly similarities to inflationary periods of the past, there is no precedent for bitcoin’s performance under circumstances such as these. Bitcoin was born only 13 years ago from the ashes of the Global Financial Crisis, which itself unleashed one of the greatest monetary expansions in history up until that time. For the last 13 years, bitcoin has seen an environment of easy monetary policy. The Fed has been dovish, and anytime hawkishness raised its ugly head, the markets rolled over and the Fed pivoted quickly to reestablish calm markets. Note that during the same period, bitcoin rose from pennies to $69,000, making it perhaps the greatest-performing asset of all time. The thesis has been that bitcoin is an “up and to the right asset,” but that thesis has never been challenged by a significantly tightening monetary policy environment, which we find ourselves at the present moment.

The old saying that “this time is different,” might actually prove to be true. The Fed can’t pivot to quell the markets this time. Inflation is wildly out of control and the Fed is starting from a near-zero rate environment. Here we are with 8.6% inflation and near-zero rates while staring recession straight in the eyes. The Fed is not hiking to cool the economy … It is hiking in the face of a cooling economy, with already one quarter of negative gross domestic product growth behind us in Q1, 2022. Quantitative tightening has only just begun. The Fed does not have the leeway to slow down or ease its tightening. It must, by mandate, continue to raise rates until inflation is under control. Meanwhile, the cost-conditions index already shows the biggest tightening in decades, with almost zero movement from the Fed. The mere hint of the Fed tightening spun the markets out of control.

(Source)

There is a big misconception in the market about the Fed and its commitment to raising rates. I often hear people say, “The Fed can’t raise rates because if they do, we won’t be able to afford our debt payments, so the Fed is bluffing and will pivot sooner than later.” That idea is just factually incorrect. The Fed has no limit as to the amount of money it can spend. Why? Because it can print money to make whatever debt payments are necessary to support the government from defaulting. It’s easy to make debt payments when you have a central bank to print your own currency, isn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re saying the Fed needs to kill inflation by raising rates. And if rates go up enough, the Fed can just print more money to pay for its higher interest payments, which is inflationary?”

Does your brain hurt yet?

This is the “debt spiral” and inflation conundrum that folks like Bitcoin legend Greg Foss talks about regularly.

Now let me be clear, the above discussion of that possible outcome is widely and vigorously debated. The Fed is an independent entity, and its mandate is not to print money to pay our debts. However, it is entirely possible that politicians make moves to change the Fed’s mandate given the potential for incredibly pernicious circumstances in the future. This complex topic and set of nuances deserves much more discussion and thought, but I’ll save that for another article in the near future.

Interestingly, when the Fed announced its intent to hike rates to kill inflation, the market didn’t wait for the Fed to do it … The market actually went ahead and did the Fed’s job for it. In the last six months, interest rates have roughly doubled — the fastest rate of change ever in the history of interest rates. Libor has jumped even more.

(Source)

This record rate-increase has included mortgage rates, which have also doubled in the last six months, sending shivers through the housing market and crushing home affordability at a rate of change unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

30-year mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months.

All of this, with only a tiny, minuscule, 50 bps hike by the Fed and the very beginning of their rate hike and balance sheet runoff program, merely started in May! As you can see, the Fed barely moved an inch, while the markets crossed a chasm on their own accord. The Fed’s rhetoric alone sent a chilling effect through the markets that few expected. Look at the global growth optimism at new all-time lows:

(Source)

Despite the current volatility in the markets, the current miscalculation by investors is that the Fed will take its foot off the brake once inflation is under control and slowing. But the Fed can only control the demand side of the inflationary equation, not the supply side of the equation, which is where most of the inflationary pressure is coming from. In essence, the Fed is trying to use a screwdriver to cut a board of lumber. Wrong tool for the job. The result may very well be a cooling economy with persistent core inflation, which is not going to be the “soft landing” that many hope for.

Is the Fed actually hoping for a hard landing? One thought that comes to mind is that we may actually need a hard landing in order to give the Fed a pathway to reduce interest rates again. This would provide the government the possibility of actually servicing its debt with future tax revenue, versus finding a path to print money to pay for our debt service at persistently higher rates.

Although there are macro similarities between the 1940s, 1970s and the present, I think it ultimately provides less insight into the future direction of asset prices than the monetary policy cycles do.

Below is a chart of the rate of change of U.S. M2 money supply. You can see that 2020-2021 saw a record rise from the COVID-19 stimulus, but look at late 2021-present and you see one of the fastest rate-of-change drops in M2 money supply in recent history. 

(Source)

In theory, bitcoin is behaving exactly as it should in this environment. Record-easy monetary policy equals “number go up technology.” Record monetary tightening equals “number go down” price action. It is quite easy to ascertain that bitcoin’s price is tied less to inflation, and more to monetary policy and asset inflation/deflation (as opposed to core inflation). The chart below of the FRED M2 money supply resembles a less volatile bitcoin chart … “number go up” technology — up and to the right.

(Via St. Louis Fed)

Now, consider that for the first time since 2009 — actually the entire history of the FRED M2 chart — the M2 line is potentially making a significant direction turn to the downside (look closely). Bitcoin is only a 13-year-old experiment in correlation analysis that many are still theorizing upon, but if this correlation holds, then it stands to reason that bitcoin will be much more closely tied to monetary policy than it will inflation.

If the Fed finds itself needing to print significantly more money, it would potentially coincide with an uptick in M2. That event could reflect a “monetary policy change” significant enough to start a new bull market in bitcoin, regardless of whether or not the Fed starts easing rates.

I often think to myself, “What is the catalyst for people to allocate a portion of their portfolio to bitcoin?” I believe we are beginning to see that catalyst unfold right in front of us. Below is a total-bond-return index chart that demonstrates the significant losses bond holders are taking on the chin right now. 

(Source)

The “traditional 60/40” portfolio is getting destroyed on both sides simultaneously, for the first time in history. The traditional safe haven isn’t working this time around, which underscores the possibility that “this time is different.” Bonds may be a deadweight allocation for portfolios from now on — or worse.

It seems that most traditional portfolio strategies are broken or breaking. The only strategy that has worked consistently over the course of millennia is to build and secure wealth with the simple ownership of what is valuable. Work has always been valuable and that is why proof-of-work is tied to true forms of value. Bitcoin is the only thing that does this well in the digital world. Gold does it too, but compared to bitcoin, it cannot fulfill the needs of a modern, interconnected, global economy as well as its digital counterpart can. If bitcoin didn’t exist, then gold would be the only answer. Thankfully, bitcoin exists.

Regardless of whether inflation stays high or calms down to more normalized levels, the bottom line is clear: Bitcoin will likely start its next bull market when monetary policy changes, even if ever so slightly or indirectly.

This is a guest post by Jordan Wirsz. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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Winners and losers of this volatile housing market

Any market that pushes some businesses to the brink of insolvency also will create opportunities for others. Through numerous interviews with industry…

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The last two years have been good to Christian Dicker. 

Like many loan officers, Dicker was working nights and weekends, banging out refinancings and purchase mortgages at record-low rates for clients. It didn’t matter where he was — getting dinner with his family at a fancy restaurant or out on the lake on a boat, Dicker always had his phone on his hands to make sure he didn’t miss any of his clients’ emails or calls. About 40% of his business came from refis in the summer of 2021 even when his focus was on purchase mortgages his entire career. 

But the boom times are over, and he knows it.

One of Dicker’s clients this past weekend backed out of a $295,000 houmese purchase in Michigan this past weekend. That sort of thing was virtually unheard of a year ago, when rates were about 3%. 

“After hearing their monthly mortgage payment would be around $2,000 a month, my client backed out of the offer the next day,” said Dicker, a senior loan officer at Motto Mortgage. “Less than a year ago, my client could’ve bought the home with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,700.”

The rising rate environment has thinned Dicker’s pipeline, culling refis almost entirely. And he’s far from alone. Market conditions have forced countless LOs, including Dicker, to find creative solutions to lock down home purchases for clients whose purchasing power has diminished greatly in the past six months. Origination volume will continue its steady, significant decline, meaning smaller paychecks for LOs and their lenders. All while their prospective borrowers continually are priced out — meaning many will indefinitely postpone or give up the search for a new home entirely.

The sudden spike in interest rates – which rose to a high of more than 6% in mid-June before falling to the 5.75% range a week later – has proven a shock to the system for the mortgage industry. Lenders staffed up during the pandemic to take advantage of those low rates, and now find themselves hugely overstaffed as business falls dramatically. For Dicker and the industry at large, the future is increasingly uncertain and the overall outlook can feel like a losing proposition.

“There really are hardly any winners in the mortgage industry,” said Joe Garrett, founder of banking and mortgage banking consulting firm Garrett, Mcauley & Co. “The winners in terms of mortgage companies are the ones who have a lot of servicing because the value has gone up as rates have gone up. Outside of the mortgage business, the winners are homeowners who refinanced.” 

The Mortgage Bankers Association projects that of $2.4 trillion in originations this year, just $730 billion will be from refis. Compared with 2021, origination volume is expected to drop 40% from last year’s $4 trillion origination volume. Less business for lenders and real estate brokerages, in return, is hurting title companies, tech vendors, appraisers and mortgage insurance firms. 

But any market that pushes some businesses to the brink of insolvency also will create opportunities for others. Through numerous interviews with industry players, HousingWire assessed the rapidly changing housing market to determine who remains vulnerable to the higher-rate environment, and who’s primed to capitalize in the months ahead. 

The culling

“You’re going to start to see the housing market price a lot of people out, which means there’s going to be fewer loans out there to be done, which means you’re going to probably see a lot of people starting to exit,” said Coley Carden, vice president of residential lending at Winchester Co-Operative Bank

Banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, which  own and hold portfolios of mortgage backed securities (MBS), as well as nonbank lenders, have borne the brunt of rising interest rates thus far. Both depositories have instituted large-scale layoffs at their mortgage divisions, and Wells Fargo has indicated it plans to pull back on its mortgage business.

Nonbank lenders, including Pennymac, Mr. Cooper, loanDepot, Guaranteed Rate, Fairway Independent Mortgage, Interfirst Mortgage Co., Movement Mortgage, New Rez/Caliber, First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and Better.com, all have conducted at least one round of workforce reductions this year, and further staff eliminations are expected to continue as volume falls. More than 10,000 industry jobs likely have already been shed during the past year, analysts told HousingWire. 

While industry observers say originators are in a better position now than during the financial crisis in 2008, largely as a result of  the refi boom over the past two years, analysts including Argus Research’s Kevin Heal, expect gain-on-sale margins to decline in coming quarters due to volatility and lenders selling loans in the secondary market with lower gains, or at a loss. 

“With today’s rising interest rates, combined with inflation, prospective buyers have seen their buying power reduced greatly,” said Sean Dobson, chief executive officer at Amherst Holdings. “This will likely cause some, who may have been ready to purchase otherwise, to take a pause.”

Brokerages prepare for leaner times

Reduced buying power means fewer closed deals for real estate brokerages, whose agents used to receive love letters from home shoppers desperate to win bidding wars.

However, real estate brokerages aren’t immune from the current market environment. Because their agents are typically 1099 contractors, they are thought to be more insulated than mortgage lenders, whose employees generally receive W2s.

In early June, luxury-focused Side, which has raised more than $200 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion, laid off 40 workers, or about 10% of its staff

“In our efforts to meet demand, we grew the team faster than we could train, support and develop everyone to meet the demands of changing roles and processes,” founder and CEO Guy Gal said in a written statement. “Considering this paired with the macroeconomic trends shaping the real estate market, we decided to slow down and get better organized so that we can speed up again.”

Tech-fueled Redfin laid off 470 employees, or about 8% of its workforce, saying housing demand fell short of expectations in May. But the brokerage is unusual in that it has salaried agents and a business model that is stretched thin during housing market downturns. Compass, which similarly has a tech bend and is also unprofitable, eliminated about 450 positions, roughly 10% of the brokerage’s employees. Compass also announced it would halt any merger and acquisition activity for the rest of the year.

Other top brokerage leaders were quick to say such troubles didn’t necessarily mean stronger headwinds for real estate brokerages.

“You have to be an ant putting away crumbs when the weather is good to have enough food when the weather is bad,” Frederick Peters, CEO of Coldwell Banker Warburg Peters, told RealTrends. “Compass never did that.”

Still, many large brokerages are taking a hard look at their physical footprints, vendor relationships and other potential means of trimming the fat as volume drops.

Demand falls for homebuilders

Fewer buyers in the market also means homebuilders are enticing shoppers with incentives, which negatively affects margins. 

“Things like buying down a customer’s rate, or offering buyers free upgrades to their house and lowering lot premium don’t really count as cutting prices, it counts as giving them away stuff for free,” said Carl Reichardt, a homebuilding analyst at BTIG

Despite the negative effect on builders’ bottom line, such incentives still aren’t luring buyers. A combination of higher home prices, rising interest rates, consumer concerns about the future of the real estate market and the lack of new home inventory has resulted in a decline in sales and traffic, according to Reichardt.

More than half of the 86 homebuilders surveyed by the BTIG/HomeSphere State of the Industry Report reported a year-over-year decrease in sales, marking the largest share of builders to experience an annual decline in sales in more than four years. Only 20% reported year-over-year traffic growth, the lowest level since April 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

Landlords hold the cards

The phrase “cash is king” has perhaps never been more apropos – home prices remain high, and rising rates put mortgage seekers at a disadvantage.

Even if mortgage rates are hovering in the 6% range, homes are still going to sell, loan officers said. Though not necessarily to buyers with financing. Homebuyers who offer cash were four times as likely to win a bidding war as those who didn’t in 2021, according to data from Redfin. 

The median existing housing price surged 14.8% from a year ago to an all-time high of more than $407,000 in May, exceeding the $400,000 level for the first time, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed. 

Motto Mortgage’s Dicker recalls providing loans in the mid- 3% level in October. “Not even a year ago rates nearly doubled to just above 6%. You can’t get something of a newer quality and bigger size compared to last year,” he said. 

All-cash sales made up 25% of transactions in May, with 16% coming from individual investors or second-home buyers taking advantage of the rising demand for renting, according to the NAR.

“More people are renting, and the resulting rent price escalation may spur more institutional investors to buy single-family homes and turn them into rental properties,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, president at NAR. 

Amherst Holdings, which acquired more than 46,600 rental homes across the country with an estimated value of more than $7.6 billion, sees potential for more business in a downmarket for the mortgage industry. The spike in borrowing costs means consumers will find themselves unable to purchase the same home that they might have been able to afford a year ago. 

“If demand for household buyers of properties cools off, we may see more opportunities for companies in the leasing space to supply single-family rentals to those who have been priced out of the homebuying market,” said Amherst’s Dobson. 

“It seems desirable properties whether it be a new single-family home that has all the bells and whistles or if it’s an apartment for rent they are renting up at higher prices and they’re also renting faster,” added Aaron Sklar, partner at Kiser Group.

Rents for apartments in professionally managed properties were up 12% nationally in the first quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, with increases in several metro areas exceeding 20%, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. 

Rent for single-family homes rose even faster than those for apartments, pushed up by demand for more space among households working remotely, the report said. Single-family rents nationally rose 14% in March 2022, marking the 12th straight month of record-high growth, according to CoreLogic data.

“It’s definitely a landlord’s market,” said Kiser Group’s Sklar. “Rents seem to be going up just as high as the interest rates are. I don’t think it’s a win for anyone on the lending side. But I do think that owners of properties, and single-family home operators, they’re the real beneficiaries of higher interest rates.”

The post Winners and losers of this volatile housing market appeared first on HousingWire.

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