Bonds continue making strategists look bad
The roundup is a weekly series where we discuss the week’s trading in government bonds and to-be-announced (or TBA) mortgage-backed securities. We’ll see where mortgage rates have been. We’ll also go over the weekly economic data and earnings announcements. Then we’ll look forward to what’s coming up the following week.
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The information in this series will be relevant to mortgage real estate investment trusts (or REITs) like American Capital Agency (AGNC), Annaly (NLY), Hatteras (HTS), Capstead (CMO), and MFA Financial (MFA). It will also be relevant to people who invest in homebuilders or fixed income exchange-traded funds (or ETFs) like the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT).
Bonds rally on events overseas and weaknesses in Europe
Last week didn’t have much market-moving economic data, with the exception of the FOMC minutes. Last Friday’s rally to 2.34% was given back on Monday. After that, bonds flatlined for the rest of the week.
The FOMC minutes didn’t give bonds much to chew on. The language was slightly more hawkish, and Janet Yellen’s speeches were similar. The Fed is clearly worried about raising rates too early. But the idea that there’s less slack in the labor market than earlier forecast means liftoff could be a bit earlier than expected.
The consensus on Wall Street has been for yields to increase as quantitative easing (or QE) ends and we get closer to the day when the Fed will start raising rates. So far, that call has been dead wrong. We’ll see if easing tensions overseas cause a bond selloff. At some point, convexity buying will kick in. This could drive prices even higher.
Overall, the recent economic data has been pointing towards a strengthening economy—not a weakening one. However, housing remains stubbornly depressed. The first-time homebuyer remains over-indebted with student loan debt and faces a tough job market. The lower rates are helping the real estate market somewhat. Mortgage origination activity is picking up.
In the next part of this series, we’ll look at trading in the TBA market. The TBA market is the basis for mortgage rates. We’ll discuss where mortgage rates have been for the week.