April 5th, 2011 3:42 PM by Lehel S.
Treasuries and mortgages opened a little better this morning taking the 10 yr treasury down to 3.40% its near term resistance; the stock market indexes in pre-market trade were showing a lower opening. Mortgage prices up slightly at 9:00 about where they were at 9:30 yesterday; but by 9:15 mortgage prices were declining along with the 10 yr which once again failed at 3.40%. 9:15 30 yr mtg price -3/32 (.09 bp), the 10 -4.32 3.44% +1 bp. At 9:30 the DJIA opened -25, the 10 yr -5/32 and mortgage prices -5/32 (.15 bp).
Last night in a speech in Atlanta (Stone Mountain) Bernanke said that the recent rise in commodity prices will likely be "transitory" and prices will fall back. He went on to say though that the Fed must be watched “extremely closely,” encouraging bets that interest rates may be raised sooner than previously expected. The remark that commodity prices and energy prices will back down is somewhat surprising although he couched it with the famous comment that the Fed will watch and react accordingly if inflation creeps into end prices. Bernanke’s comments echoed his March 1 statement to lawmakers that Fed officials were “prepared to respond as necessary” to inflationary pressures. The Federal Open Market Committee, said following its March 15 meeting that it “will pay close attention” to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.
Bernanke's comments in his speech shows the increasing division within the Fed about how long to continue keeping the FF rate at zero to +0.25% as it has since 2008; for the last couple of weeks one after another Fed officials have increasingly warned the US should end its tightening and begin to increase rates soon. Bernanke saying present inflation pressures in commodities and energy prices being "transitory" is his apparent response to the increasing concerns within the Fed. Bernanke remains convinced the economic recovery is not yet on solid ground, remarks like he made last night may be his way of jaw-boning the bond market from sending prices lower and yields higher. We don't rally have to say it but, if rates increase even a little the depressed housing sector will be further constrained. Will the markets buy Bernanke's "transitory" view about inflation? Back in the day he also said the sub prime mortgage markets were likely to be contained and managed. Is the US immune to inflation? Brazil, Russia, China, India, likely the European Union on Thursday and emerging market countries all increasing rates. Answer: No.
China increased its interest rates last night by 0.25% for the fourth time since the global financial crisis to limit the risk of asset price bubbles in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. The one-year lending rate will increase to 6.31% from 6.06% effective tomorrow. The one-year deposit rate will rise to 3.25% from 3.0%. On Thursday the ECB is widely expected to increase its base rate to head off inflation in the region which is now at +2.6% and higher than its 2.0% target rate on inflation.
Crude oil is lower today after reaching 30 month highs; with China increasing interest rates and oil supplies seen as increasing oil is a little lower today. That said, it is highly unlikely the demand for oil will decline regardless of increasing rates and China trying to slow its economy. Oil supplies won't likely increase enough to offset the coming summer driving season and the Mideast oil world is far from stable.
The only economic report today; at 10:00 the March ISM services sector index expected at 59.5 frm 59.7. As released the index fell to 57.3; the new orders component 64.1 frm 64.4, prices pd at 72.1 frm 73.3 and employment at 53.7 frm 55.6. The repot not as good as was expected, the reaction is support the bond market and adding additional selling in equity indexes.
Two Fedsters out today: Kocherlakota of Minneapolis and Plosser of Philadelphia; (12;45 for Kocherlakota and 1:30 for Plosser)
Later today at 2:00 the minutes from the March 15th FOMC meeting will be released. Possibly a little more detail on the debate over QE and inflation expectations.
Once again the bellwether 10 yr, driver for mortgage rates, failed on its attempt to move below 3.40% this morning. The 10 has recently found a home trading between 3.40% and 3.50%, not much of a range but keeping mortgage rates stable. We remain bearish for the direction of interest rates on the wider perspective. For all of Bernanke's confidence inflation won't get a toehold, the Fed will end QE and the FF rate will likely be increased before the end of the 3rd Q.