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Economic update for the week ending July 13, 2019

The Dow exceeds 27,000 for the first time ever - This week Federal Reserve Chairman Powell’s testified before Congress.  He signaled that an argument could be made for an interest rate cut.  This led investors to speculate that a cut was likely in the coming months. The Fed controls overnight rates. Those directly affect prime lending rates. Cuts in these short term rates reduce interest expense to companies and push up corporate earnings. Speculation of a rate cut pushed all indexes up to record highs. Unfortunately, speculation of lower short term rates actually caused mortgage rates to rise this week. Mortgage rates are long term rates. Lower short term rates increase the risk of long term inflation and drives long term rates higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 27,332.03, up 1.5% from 26,922.12 last week. It’s up 17.2% year to date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 3,013.77, up 0.8% from 2,990.41 last week. It is up 20.2% year to date. The NASDAQ closed the week at 8,244.17, up 1.0%  from 8,161.79 last week. The NASDAQ is up 24.2% year to date. 

Treasury Bond Yields  - The 10-year treasury bond closed the month yielding 2.12%, up from 2.04% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 2.64%, up  from 2.54%  last week. 
Mortgage rates remain at 2 year lows - The  July 3, 2019 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey showed mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.75%, almost unchanged from 3.75% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.22%, up  from 3.18% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.46%, unchanged  from 3.45% last week. Rates ended the week higher. They will be about 1/8% higher next week. 

Homes purchased by investors were the highest on record in 2018  - The share of investor purchases of U.S. homes have climbed to an all-time high, a sign that rising home prices have done little to dampen demand for flipping homes or turning them into single-family rentals. Data released by CoreLogic reported that more than 11% of residential properties were purchased by real estate speculators, private equity firms, and other investors in 2018. Investor purchases are the highest on record and nearly twice the levels before the 2008 housing crash. The investor interest poses a challenge for millennials and other first-time buyers who are increasingly looking to buy starter homes and are forced to compete with deep-pocketed cash buyers.



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