Friday, January 24, 2014
Mortgage Time Mortgage Market News for the week ending January 24, 2014 Chinese Manufacturing Slows The driving force for mortgage rates this week came from an unexpected source. Chinese manufacturing data fell short of expectations, causing sharp losses in global stock markets. Investors shifted to relatively safer assets, helping mortgage rates end the week lower. On Thursday, China's PMI manufacturing index dropped to 49.6, below the consensus of 50.3. Readings below 50.0 indicate a contraction in the sector. China has been an important engine of growth for the world economy, so a slowdown would have significant implications for global markets. In fact, the news from China completely overwhelmed the strong results in Europe, which showed that manufacturing in the euro zone reached the highest level since the summer of 2011. The Chinese data caused concerns about the pace of global economic growth, and investors sold stocks. This resulted in an increase in demand for bonds, including mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This week's Existing Home Sales data showed that, despite a slowdown in the fourth quarter, 2013 reflected a year of solid gains. Over five million existing homes were sold in 2013, an increase of 9% from 2012, and the highest level since 2006. While the gains may be more modest, most analysts expect the improvement to continue in 2014 as well. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) projects a very small increase in home sales next year, but both Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) forecast home sales to increase about 5% in 2014.