Why refinance activity is sliding when mortgage rates are so low

Mortgage refinance demand is slipping, after a frenzy of refinance activity in mid-March, when sub-3% mortgage rates caused a spike of refinancing to a 17-year record.

There were 6.3% fewer refinances in the U.S. during the week ending May 15 — the largest weekly drop in May. Refinance activity has been on a steady decline and is down 17.4% from the four-week period ending April 17, according to the latest report by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Refinances are actually continuing to fall off a little, and rates are close to record lows,” said Joel Kan, associate vice president of industry surveys and forecasts at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Mortgage interest rates remain at low levels, at less than 3.3% last week for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, according to Freddie Mac, which would normally incentivize homeowners to refinance. But lending standards have become stricter. With uncertain economic conditions, mortgage lenders are

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Major homebuilder says activity picking up again amid coronavirus but still had to reduce workforce

The PulteGroup (PHM) said Monday that weekly home orders have almost tripled since the end of March — but it wasn’t enough to save jobs.

The Atlanta-based homebuilder, which had 800 orders in the first week of March, received only 140 new home commissions for the last week in March. Orders rose to 400 for the week ending May 3, but the company said orders are still down 50% for April, compared to the same month the year prior — prompting layoffs and furloughs. 

“As part of our first quarter earnings release, we reported that following a very strong start to the year, housing demand slowed materially beginning in mid-March as the country was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said PulteGroup President and CEO Ryan Marshall, in a press statement.

Competitor D.R. Horton (DHI), based in Arlington, Texas, reported a similar uptick following losses. The company reported an increase

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America’s manufacturing activity is about to crash by the most since World War 2: Goldman Sachs

It could be a very bleak earnings season — and summer — on tap for some of the nation’s biggest manufacturers if Goldman Sachs is right.

Goldman Sachs estimates in a new report Tuesday that U.S. manufacturing production has declined by 15% since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the more cyclical components of manufacturing activity have crashed by 35%, Goldman notes.

The road ahead will probably stay brutal, per Goldman’s research, as the likes of GM and Ford keep auto plants shuttered and closed retailers decline to order new merchandise.

Goldman estimates a roughly 25% decline in overall manufacturing activity in April compared to pre-coronavirus levels. That would mark the largest decline in manufacturing output since the slowdown immediately following World War II, according to Goldman.

The bank’s strategist Jan Hatzius believes that manufacturing and construction sectors will recover quicker from the current situation than services.


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U.S. manufacturing, service sector activity contract in March amid coronavirus: IHS Markit

Activity in the U.S. services and manufacturing sectors contracted sharply in March, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to weigh on economic growth and grind business operations to a halt, according to IHS Markit.

IHS Markit’s flash U.S. services purchasing managers index (PMI) declined to a record low of 39.1 for the month, falling from a reading of 49.4 in February. This was below the level of 42.0 expected for March, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

The firm’s PMI for the domestic manufacturing sector fell to 49.2 in March from 50.7 in February, reaching the lowest level since 2009. Consensus economists expected the preliminary monthly PMI to come in at 43.5.

Readings below the neutral level of 50 signal contraction in a sector.

IHS Markit’s report adds to a growing pile of disappointing data depicting a U.S. economy that rapidly went from flourishing to languishing as the coronavirus pandemic overtook the

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Experts warn of historic collapse in economic activity

As the coronavirus continues to spread, there is no question the U.S. economy is taking a major hit.

Economists at Goldman Sachs warn GDP will collapse at a 24% rate, a far cry from the “4, 5, and even 6%” growth scenario presented by President Trump just over two years ago.

“We are in a global recession,” Allianz’s Mohamed El-Erian said on Yahoo Finance’s On The Move. “We’re in a global recession because of what economic sudden stops do.”

Economic contractions often happen gradually, not suddenly, giving policymakers and business leaders some time to adjust so that growth may resume. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has forced economic activity to grind to a halt (i.e. sudden stop) as social distancing has effectively shutdown the massive global discretionary services industry, while also disrupting the massive global manufactured goods supply chain.

“[Sudden stops] are normally experienced by fragile states or by a community

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