Santa in Demand, Fed Dot Plot, Expensive Freight

With Christmas falling on a Saturday only 3 weekends are available to celebrate, compressing the season and further increasing the demand for Santas. Now that vaccines are widely available there are more in-person events and coupled with Zoom, Santa can be everywhere (even if socially distant) at once!

“Today we’ve already had close to 250 people reach out to us to hire a Santa Claus entertainer,” he said on a day in late November. “And we’re unlikely to be able to staff many, if any, of those.”

Rates– improved marginally this week as the price of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) gained ground breaking above their previous trend in response to Omicron news . Rates are up approximately 3/8% from this time last year.

Fed – As anticipated the Fed increased the pace of their ‘taper’ (slowing down their purchase pace of MBS per month) from $15B per month to $30B. To avoid rocking the market they re-emphasized they won’t taper and hike rates simultaneously. At their current taper pace they will be at zero in March so we expect to see a rate hike as early as May 4th. The Fed released their ‘Dot Plot’ which shows where voting members project rates to be in the short term. There is consensus of 3 hikes in 2022 and 2-3 in 2023 – of course this can change with economic data but it does appear that they are on the same page.

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New Construction – builders remain confident with strong sales and high expectations for future sales. Additionally housing starts rose by 12% in November and are up 8.3% year over year. Single Family starts are up 11% from the previous month but down 1% year over year. Single family permits are down 4.5% year over year.

Shipping rates hit an all time high rising 8% in November and 44% year over year.

Mortgage Applications – increased week over week. Purchase applications rose by 1% and are down 9% year over year (remember that cash buyers are up, prices are up 20% and rates are 1/2% higher). Refinances fell by 6% and are down 41% year over year.

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