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Rant & Rave Blog

Goldman Sachs Double Top Called On This Blog. Pulls Back Then Bounces...

Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Goldman Sachs Double Top Called On This Blog. Pulls Back Then Bounces...

RealTick graphics used with permission of Townsend Analytics, Ltd. ©1986-2009 Townsend Analytics, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. RealTick is a registered trademark of Townsend Analytics, Ltd.

Oil Closes Above $63

Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Oil Closes Above $63Crude oil futures rose for a third session in a row topping $63 a barrel toendat its highest level in almost seven months on hopes of an economic recovery and higher oil demand. Crude for July delivery closed up $1 at $63.45 a barrel.


Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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US Governments AAA Rating Is Stable

Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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US Governments AAA Rating Is StableMoodys said the U.S. governments AAA rating is stable despite the countrys expanding debt. A credit rating of AAA is the highest possible


Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Mortgage-Bond Yields Jump, Jeopardizing Fed's Housing Effort

Posted by Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 08:00PM ET

Read 303 times

Mortgage-Bond Yields Jump, Jeopardizing Fed's Housing EffortMay 27 (Bloomberg) -- Yields on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage bonds rose for a fourth day, after exceeding for the first time yesterday their levels before the Federal Reserve announced it would expand purchases to drive down interest rates on new loans.

Yields on Washington-based Fannie Mae’s current-coupon 30- year fixed-rate mortgage bonds climbed to 4.55 percent as of 3:15 p.m. in New York, the highest since Dec. 5 and up from 3.94 percent on May 20, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Rising mortgage-bond yields, driven higher in part by climbing Treasury rates, mean the Fed now “faces a challenge to its ability to sustain low mortgage rates,” according to Jeffrey Rosenberg at Bank of America Corp. The central bank, seeking to use lower home-loan rates to stem the housing slump and bolster consumers, said March 18 it would increase its planned purchases of so-called agency mortgage bonds by $750 billion, to as much as $1.25 trillion, and start buying government notes.

“Market participants may be asking themselves the same question as Scorpio in ‘Dirty Harry’: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ ” Rosenberg, the bank’s head of credit strategy research in New York, wrote in a report yesterday, referring to a character in the 1971 Clint Eastwood film who may be shot.

Crashing U.S. home prices have fueled the first global recession since World War II. The Fed, led by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, may need to again adjust its mortgage-bond buying, after initially announcing the program in November, or boost its purchases of Treasuries, Rosenberg said. Home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas fell more than forecast in March, declining 18.7 percent from a year earlier, according to an S&P/Case Shiller index released yesterday.

‘Extension Pressures’

As rising Treasury yields sparked speculation that higher mortgage rates would extend the average lives of home-loan bonds by reducing the pace of refinancing, holders of the bonds, lenders and servicers began seeking to shorten the durations of holdings to make up for the effect, according to Mahesh Swaminathan, a mortgage-bond analyst in New York at Credit Suisse Group.

Their actions last week started causing interest-rate swap spreads to widen, as they sought to use those contracts to lessen their durations, “a canary in the coal mine pointing to the extension pressures building up,” Swaminathan said in a telephone interview.

Today, they drove mortgage and government bonds lower, with the Treasury market, which “started the process, now sort of being taken for a ride,” exacerbating the situation, he said. Yields on the Fannie Mae mortgage bonds climbed from 4.26 percent yesterday.

Good-Credit Applicants

A good-credit borrower who could have gotten a 4.625- percent 30-year mortgage on May 22 and a 4.875-percent loan yesterday will probably be offered a rate of 5.25 percent tomorrow, according to Grant Stern, the owner of Morningside Mortgage Corp., a brokerage in Miami Beach, Florida. Today, one lender he works with increased its pricing four times, he said.

“The last two months have been quite abnormal” as mortgage rates generally held in a range between 4.5 percent and 4.75 percent even while Treasury yields began climbing, he said.

The average rate on a typical 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.82 percent in the week ended May 21, according to a survey by McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac. Rates are down from 6.46 percent in late October, and up from a record low of 4.78 percent in the first and last weeks of April.

Yields on agency mortgage bonds are now guiding rates on almost all new U.S. home lending following the collapse of the non-agency market in 2007 and retreats by banks. The almost $5 trillion market includes securities guaranteed by government- controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bonds of government- backed loans guaranteed by federal agency Ginnie Mae.

Effects of ‘Constraints’

“Capacity constraints” at lenders dealing with increased mortgage applications since December have caused the rates offered to borrowers to be higher in relationship to the bonds yields than in the past, according to Bank of America and Credit Suisse analysts. That suggests loan rates may not initially rise as much as yields do.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries hit 3.74 percent today, a six-month high, up from 2.54 percent on March 18, a low this month of 3.09 percent on May 14 and 3.55 percent yesterday.

Treasuries are slumping amid concern that record bond sales will overwhelm demand as U.S. bailout and stimulus spending stems deflation while adding to the nation’s debt burden, and as investors shift from the safe harbor of government notes amid climbing prices of other assets in a recession that some economists say is easing.

Stocks Get Hit

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index today dropped the most in two weeks, losing 1.9 percent to 893.06 at 4:05 p.m. in New York, as investors weighed the impact of higher borrowing costs on the economy. The index is up 32 percent from March 9. Today, S&P’s Supercomposite Homebuilding Index fell 2.9 percent.

The difference between yields on Fannie Mae’s current- coupon 30-year fixed-rate mortgage bonds and 10-year Treasuries had been narrowing. It was at 0.92 percentage point today, down from as high as 2.38 percentage points in March 2008, according to Bloomberg data. The Fed’s purchases drove the spread to 0.70 percentage point, the lowest since 1992, on May 22. The yield gap jumped from 0.71 percentage point yesterday.

“Many investors who felt MBS spreads were too tight thought it might be time to take chips off the table,” Credit Suisse’s Swaminathan said. “This is something we anticipated would build up” as many mortgage-bond holders who were previously wary of lightening their positions on the view the Fed buying would continue to support the market finally decided to act.

Rate Threshold

The so-called option-adjusted spread of the Fannie Mae 30- year securities to interest-rate swaps yesterday was negative 0.16 percentage point, the lowest since March 2007 and a level suggesting an investor borrowing funds at the London interbank offered rate to buy the mortgage bonds would lose money, according to Bloomberg data. That spread reached as high as 1.06 percentage points in October, and jumped to positive 0.01 percentage point today.

Mortgage servicers also were dumping home-loan securities because “once rates backed up, they needed to shed duration,” Art Frank, the head of mortgage-bond research at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, said in a telephone interview. “Today, the volume really came out because we crossed what apparently many of them thought was an important threshold” in terms of rates.

Moves by Servicers

Servicers, which handle billing and collections, have contracts whose expected lives extend when the odds of refinancing drop. Those companies’ hedging needs may wreak more havoc than in 2003, when duration-extension issues contributed to a 1.3 percentage point spike in 10-year Treasury yields in six weeks, according to a report today from Barclays Capital analysts in New York. Servicing portfolios are now “significantly bigger” amid the surge in housing debt in recent years, they wrote.

Mortgage originators today also “purged their pipelines, flooding the market with” more than $5 billion of home-loan securities by mid-afternoon, according to a note to clients from UBS AG analysts.

Lenders, which enter contracts to sell mortgage securities before extending loans in order to hedge against interest-rate changes, often sell more as rates spike and they face the likelihood that more applicants than they were expecting will seek to close on loans. The effects of this dynamic will be less than in 2003, according to Kumar Velayudham and Nicholas Strand, the Barclays analysts.

Bloomberg current-coupon indexes represent the yields for hypothetical mortgage bonds trading at roughly face value. The levels are typically based on calculations derived from yields on the two groups trading just above and below par because of the size of their coupons, into which lenders typically package new loans.

A swap rate is the fixed yield paid in return for floating- rate payments linked to short-term interest rates, through a derivative contract called a swap. Swap spreads are the difference between those yields and Treasury rates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jody Shenn in New York at
Apple Upgraded By Morgan Stanley

Posted by Monday, May 25, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Apple Upgraded By Morgan Stanley
Apple was upgraded to overweight from equalweight at Morgan Stanley. They increased their price target to $180 from $105.The analyst said that iPhone is leading earnings growth that the market is missing. They see iPhone driven earnings per share upside over the next two years.

World Markets Shaken By North Korea's Missile Test

Posted by Monday, May 25, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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World Markets Shaken By North Korea's Missile TestWorld stocks fell Tuesday as North Korea test fired two missiles a day after its nuclear test, increasing uncertainty among investors already worried that the recent rally in the markets may be overdone.
Key Levels To Watch For The Markets Open

Posted by Monday, May 25, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Key Levels To Watch For The Markets Open

RealTick graphics used with permission of Townsend Analytics, Ltd. ©1986-2009 Townsend Analytics, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. RealTick is a registered trademark of Townsend Analytics, Ltd.

Home Prices Drop At Record Pace

Posted by Monday, May 25, 2009, 08:00PM ET

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Home Prices Drop At Record PaceThe Standard & Poors Case-Schiller Index reported home prices fell 19.1 percent in the first quarter it was the biggest drop in its 21 year history. Home prices have fallen 32.2 percent since the peak in the second quarter of 2006 and are at levels not seen since the end of 2002.

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