The Weekly Rap! Friday March 14th, 2014

Congratulations to all the High Achiever Real Estate Agents in El Dorado County presented with recognition of their hard work today at our annual luncheon where we raised money for local high school students to further their college education through scholarships.  Thank you to all to contributed.  We broke records this year!

The National Debt is currently: $17,503,721,572,952.00  is higher by about 28 BILLION. That’s 121 Billion increase in just 2 weeks.  I post this so we will be aware of what we are leaving the next generation.

The Dow last traded at 16,065 about 380 pts lower than where it was last Friday.  The S&P 500 is trading at 1,841.  Gold is trading at $1,381 an ounce, while oil futures at $99.00 a barrel.  Gas prices, (Regular in El Dorado Hills, Costco, AM/PM), are at $3.52/Gal.

Mortgage Backed Securities or “MBS” yields are interest rates at which banks sell their loans into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bond programs. The FNMA 30-year fixed 4.0% coupon, containing 4.25% – 4.625% mortgages, pretty much the benchmark or how rate sheets are priced these days  is currently trading at 104.38 about .25 better than where we were last Friday at this time.  Basically each percent change in the price of the security translates to the price (or points paid or credited) of the mortgage rate.  The higher the number (price), the better the rate.

In economic news this week; The reader’s digest version is the economy continues to limp along an a snails pace

Small-business sentiment slumped in February, on concerns over sales, the economy and employment driving the downturn, according to the National Federation of Independent Business which reported its small-business index dropped 2.7 points to 91.4.  The worst component of the report was earnings trends, with a net negative 27% reading, while the best was plans to make capital outlays or spending, with a net positive 25% reading.  The index hasn’t been over 100 since 2006.

Sales at U.S. retailers rose in February for the first time in three months as shoppers boosted purchases of a variety of goods after being cooped up by one of the harshest winters in years.  Retail sales rose 0.3% last month, the Commerce Department reported. Unless sales rebound sharply in March, retail spending in the first quarter of 2014 could end up lower than in the final three months of 2013 and weigh on growth. The economy is on track to expand by 1.7% in the first quarter vs. 2.4% in the fourth quarter.

A gauge of consumer sentiment declined in March to hit the lowest level in four months, cut by weaker expectations for the economy, according to a Friday report.  The gauge from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters fell to 79.9 this month from a final February level of 81.6.

Wholesale prices, the producer price index or PPI, fell 0.1% in February to mark the first decline in three months.  Declines in clothing-store margins and gasoline largely accounted for the drop in overall wholesale prices. The price of wholesale goods rose by 0.4% in February while services retreated by 0.3%.  Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy and trade, so-called “core” wholesale prices rose 0.1% for the second straight month.  Personal consumption, a new gauge that could foreshadow changes in the consumer price index, decreased 0.2% in February. Over the past year PPI has risen 0.9%, down from 1.2% in January, in another sign of slacking inflationary pressure in the economy.

The federal budget deficit narrowed a bit in February, the Treasury Department reported, shrinking 5% from a year earlier as receipts jumped and spending only modestly rose.  The shortfall was $194 billion for February, versus the $204 billion recorded in the same month a year ago. The gap narrowed mostly thanks to higher intake of receipts including individual and corporate taxes, as well as higher Federal Reserve earnings (well the Fed holds over 4+ Trillion Dollars’ worth of securities).   Total receipts were up 18% compared to February 2013. The fiscal 2013 shortfall is the first deficit of below $1 trillion of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

On the Real Estate front:  According to the White House’s 2014 economic report that was released Monday, a gauge of mortgage-credit availability rose slightly last month, and has been heading higher for two years.  The trend could support the housing market’s recovery.  Stronger housing demand depends critically on the easing of credit standards (that might have been over-tightened following the financial crisis), particularly for first-time homebuyers.  Healthy jobs growth is also key for more home sales.  But if borrowers can’t get a loan, that’s going to hold back the market’s rebound.

On the Employment front:  Job openings rose to 3.97 million in January from 3.91 million in December.  Compared with same period last year, January’s job openings rose 8%, as private-sector openings increased 10% to 3.61 million, and government positions fell to 369,000 from 421,000.  With 10.24 million unemployed people in January, there were about 2.6 potential job seekers per opening, matching December’s ratio. In January 2013, there were 12.32 million unemployed people — about 3.3 potential seekers per opening. When the recession began in December 2007, there were less than two potential job seekers per opening.  The level of hires was almost 5 million when the recession began.

In a bit of good news, the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in the first week of March fell to the lowest level in more than three months, perhaps a sign of an uptick in labor-market conditions?   The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, also sank to a three-month low. The four-week average declined by 6,250 to 330,500.

You can visit my corporate website at:

Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor MLO# 445991

The nicest compliment I can receive is the referral of your family, friends and co-workers.

Thank you!

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