April 19th, 2011 7:32 AM by Lehel S.
Treasuries and mortgage markets opened better this morning on weaker stock indexes pointing to a weak open at 9:30. Trading this week will be on low volume with Passover and Holy Week. Already this morning there has been an increase in volatility; the 10 yr note traded +10/32 at 9:00 then fell to -5/32 and immediately bounced back to unchanged; mortgage prices at 8:59 this morning +5/32, at 9:07 -1/32, at 9:15 -4/32 (.12 bp). This week will likely be somewhat volatile but by the end of the week not much changed; many investors and traders will be leaving by mid-week.
S&P roiled markets early this morning; saying it has downgraded US debt to negative. The DJIA opened -170 points at 9:30, the bond and mortgage markets were quite volatile as investors were somewhat shocked on the announcement. Treasuries erased an earlier advance, the dollar pared gains versus the euro and gold rallied. S&P affirmed reduced the long-term U.S. debt rating to negative from stable, while affirming its AAA long-term and A-1+ short-term sovereign credit ratings. S&P said that more than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policymakers have not agreed on a strategy to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures. While a shock, it shouldn't have been with our politicians in Washington twinking around with budget cuts that were nothing; they patted themselves on their collective backs and announced a $38B cut in spending, but the actual real cut amounted to just $318 mil. All of the cuts were just not funding what had been approved previously. As long as our "leaders" are unwilling to make serious steps to cut spending and increase revenues (taxes) the US debt rating will continue to be down-graded, and US interest rates will increase.
Listening and watching the reaction from guests on CNBC one would think markets were slapped in the face with the down-grade and are taking offense. We and others have warned for over two years that US debt ratings were going to be lowered. Somehow most in the US believe the US is immune to debt ratings declines; time to wake up folks, the US if corporate accounting were to be applied, is bankrupt. 50% of all Americans pay no federal income tax while politicians don't have the stones to do what everyone knows has to be done. We do not have leaders, we have politicians that above all want to keep their jobs.
This week has little data except for the housing sector; March starts and permits, March existing home sales as well as this morning's NAHB housing market index and Thursday's FHFA housing price index. The only non-housing data comes on Thursday with weekly jobless claims and the April Philadelphia Fed business index. The markets will close early on Thursday and be closed Friday for Good Friday.
This Week's Economic Calendar:
10:00 am April NAHB housing market index (17 was expected, as reported 16)
8:30 am March housing starts and permits (starts +7.8%; permits +3.9%)
7:00 am MBA weekly mortgage applications
10:00 am March existing home sales (+2.5%)
8:30 am weekly jobless claims (-22K back to 390K; con't claims 3.650 mil frm 3.680 mil)
10:00 am April Philadelphia Fed business index (32.9 frm 43.4 in March)
Mar leading economic indicators (+0.2%)
FHFA Feb housing price index (N/A)
Fed speak; at 12:30 Dallas Fed's Fisher speaking on the economic outlook. Likely he will continue the Fed's outlook, moderate growth with no inflation concerns but that the Fed will continue to monitor events closely. The Fed will complete the $600B QE 2 by the end of June. His comments won't likely present anything new.