Residential real estate is likely to be on investor radars next week, with the release of housing starts and mortgage applications data. This week’s inflation number – which some market participants interpreted as prices peaking – is also expected to be commented on by FOMC members, a potential source of insights for investors on upcoming monetary policy decisions. On the monetary policy front, additional clues on the next Fed moves may be included in the “Beige Book.”
As we expected, and mentioned in our previous iterations of the “Week Ahead,” peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have stalled, and the parties are digging in for what’s likely to be a bloody face-off in the Donbas. Markets took notice last Tuesday, after President Putin’s hawkish speech at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
It’s all about real estate
Increased inflation has been impacting long term interest rates and firming up the Federal Reserve’s hawkish stance. In fact, some market participants appear to be worried about a “hard landing,” where faster than expected rate hikes can lead to a recession.
The impact of these latest macroeconomic developments on real estate – an asset class that has been in high demand for the past twelve months – is yet to be measured. While a steep rise in long end rates can affect mortgages, and thus affordability of residential real estate, the asset class is also a traditional inflation hedge and has attracted robust institutional investor attention.
On Monday, the April NAHB housing market index, a monthly survey of NAHB members designed to take the pulse of the single-family housing market, will be released. On Tuesday, March MoM building permits and housing starts numbers will be published. These are still lagging indicators, but investors will be looking for hints of the market potentially cooling down. On Wednesday, the slate of real estate data publication will be completed with March existing home sales and mortgage applications.
While some analysts are warning that the sudden steep increase in mortgage rates can end up pricing out some individual investors, others point out that the market is still teeming with buyers – including institutional investors that may end up scooping up most of the inventory currently under construction.
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Fed Beige Book and speakers
The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” is a summary of commentaries on current economic conditions across different geographies within the US. The information is gathered by Fed Presidents within their districts through interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.
While not strictly a driver of Fed policy, the Beige Book is a good barometer of “conditions on the ground,” and investors typically look into it for clues about trends that broader economic analysis may miss.
The Russia-Ukraine war will be entering its seventh week, as the frontline moves to Eastern Ukraine and away from Kyiv. Analysts have been pointing to May 9 – the anniversary of Russia’s victory in World War II – as the day by which President Putin intends to announce that his army reached its targets in Ukraine.
In his most recent speech, the Russian President ruled out a negotiated end to the conflict and continued to push forward with a more confrontational narrative that depicts Ukrainians as the new Nazis. Investors had been hoping for a ceasefire, and market action reflected their disappointment this week.
The conflict continues to impact supply chains in Europe, and is likely to keep commodity prices at record highs. However, global supply chains are in the process of readjusting to a post-pandemic world, which may lead to more efficiency going forward.
Next week is also likely to give us some additional clarity about Elon Musk’s future role in Twitter. As we wrote last week, he’s unlikely to stay quiet – yet he also doesn’t seem to be willing to take a Board seat – and thus the responsibility that comes with it. Expect some fireworks…
1. GS Research – USA: Core CPI Inflation Likely Peaks at 6.5% in March
2. For more info about the methodology, see https://www.nahb.org/news-and-economics/housing-economics/indices/housing-market-index
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