US: MBA Mortgage Applications

Wed Oct 04 06:00:00 CDT 2017

Actual Previous
Composite Index - W/W Change -0.4% -0.5%
Purchase Index - W/W Change 1.0% 3.0%
Refinance Index - W/W Change -2.0% -4.0%

Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent in the September 29 week, lifting the year-on-year rate by 1 percentage point to 5 percent. Applications for refinancing fell for the third consecutive week and are down 2 percent, with the refinancing share of mortgage activity declining by 0.7 percentage points to 50.1 percent. The average interest rate on conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgages ($424,100 or less) rose 1 basis point from the prior week to 4.12 percent. Despite the second consecutive weekly increase in purchase applications, the index has not fully recovered from weakness, some of it hurricane related, in the prior weeks, and with interest rates inching higher, demand from home buyers is not likely to be a source of support for a housing market that is mostly stumbling into year end.

The Mortgage Bankers' Association compiles various mortgage loan indexes. The purchase applications index measures applications at mortgage lenders. This is a leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.

This provides a gauge of not only the demand for housing, but economic momentum. People have to be feeling pretty comfortable and confident in their own financial position to buy a house. Furthermore, this narrow piece of data has a powerful multiplier effect through the economy, and therefore across the markets and your investments. By tracking economic data such as the Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications, investors can gain specific investment ideas as well as broad guidance for managing a portfolio.

Each time the construction of a new home begins, it translates to more construction jobs, and income which will be pumped back into the economy. Once a home is sold, it generates revenues for the home builder and the realtor. It brings a myriad of consumption opportunities for the buyer. Refrigerators, washers, dryers and furniture are just a few items new home buyers might purchase. The economic "ripple effect" can be substantial especially when you think a hundred thousand new households around the country are doing this every month.

Since the economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets, housing construction has a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities. In a more specific sense, trends in the MBA purchase applications index carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders, mortgage lenders and home furnishings companies.