October 19, 2011 at 15:53 PM EDT
Mortgage Applications Off 14.9%, but Don't Panic
mortgage applicationsThe Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported that weekly mortgage applications fell by 14.9% in the period ending October 14, but don’t panic. We believe we have got the reason for the drop pegged herein, and it’s a one-time event, so relax. If anything, the news out of housing has been positive this week, with Housing Starts reported up in September and the Housing Market Index also improved in October.

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Mortgage Applications Off

The MBA’s Market Composite Index collapsed by 14.9%, while the Refinance Index sank by 16.6%. The give-away data point, with regard to panic reconciliation, is the Purchase Index, which measures mortgage applications on home acquisitions. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index also fell excessively, declining by 8.8% against the week just prior.

The naïve reader of the report might want to attribute the mortgage application decline to the increase in mortgage rates that occurred through the same period. The average contracted rates on 30-year fixed rate mortgages across the spectrum of jumbo, conforming and FHA sponsored loans all rose. FHA sponsored rates increased to 4.12% from 4.06%. So, we would expect some sort of drop-off in activity, but not the dramatic decline that actually occurred.

As I indicated previously, Purchase Activity is the giveaway. Everything around the purchase of a home moves slowly and takes time and consideration. So, we hardly ever see dramatic changes around mortgage applications for purchases. One might give the rate increase as much weight for driving activity as for cutting it off, since it might spur prospective buyers into acting out of fear that rates might go even higher. Therefore, the near 9 point drop in purchase activity last week cannot be a naturally driven circumstance. Well, no comet struck the earth (yet), and Europe is still solvent, so what was the driver. I believe that it was a factor I’ve pointed out before in this column, the effects of holidays on the data.

While some are better than others, data managers fail to perfectly adjust for holidays. Even if they’ve got the loss of the day perfectly accounted for, they tend to miss the drop-off in business activity that occurs before and after holidays, especially three-day weekends. As a result, though, I expect we’ll see a commensurate unnatural increase in activity next week, when the period matches up against the holiday burdened period. As always, I’m here to clear out the noise for you.

Article should interest investors in Savings & Loan stocks including Alaska Pacific Bankshares (OTC: AKPB.OB), Allied First Bancorp (OTC: AFBA.OB), Astoria Financial (NYSE: AF), AMB Financial (OTC: AMFC.OB), Ameriana Bancorp (NasdaqCM: ASBI), Anchor Bancorp Wisconsin (Nasdaq: ABCW), Bancorp of New Jersey (AMEX: BKJ), Bank Mutual (Nasdaq: BKMU), BankAtlantic (NYSE: BBX), BankFinancial (Nasdaq: BFIN), Banner (Nasdaq: BANR), BCSB Bancorp (Nasdaq: BCSB), Beacon Federal (Nasdaq: BFED), Berkshire Hills (Nasdaq: BHLB), Blackhawk Bancorp (OTC: BHWB.OB), Blue River Bancshares (OTC: BRBI.OB), Bofi (Nasdaq: BOFI), Broadway Financial (Nasdaq: BYFC), Brookline (Nasdaq: BRKL), Brooklyn Federal (Nasdaq: BFSB), Camco Financial (Nasdaq: CAFI), Capitol Federal (Nasdaq: CFFN), Carver (Nasdaq: CARV), Cecil Bancorp (OTC: CECB.OB), Center Financial (Nasdaq: CLFC), Central Federal (Nasdaq: CFBK), Chicopee (Nasdaq: CBNK), Citizens South (Nasdaq: CSBC), CKF Bancorp (OTC: CKFB.OB), Clarkston Financial (OTC: CKFC.OB), Clifton Savings (Nasdaq: CSBK), Close Brothers (OTC: CBGPY.PK), Columbia Banking (Nasdaq: COLB), Consumers (OTC: CBKM.OB), Dime Community (Nasdaq: DCOM), Enterprise (Nasdaq: EBTC), ESB Financial (Nasdaq: ESBF), ESSA Bancorp (Nasdaq: ESSA), Eureka Financial (OTC: EKFC.OB), FedFirst Fin’l (Nasdaq: FFCO), FFD Fin’l (Nasdaq: FFDF), FFW (OTC: FFWC.OB), First Bancorp of Indiana (OTC: FBPI.OB), First Bancshares (Nasdaq: FBSI), First Capital (Nasdaq: FCAP), First Clover Leaf (Nasdaq: FCLF), First Defiance (Nasdaq: FDEF), First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas (Nasdaq: FFBH), First Financial Holdings (Nasdaq: FFCH), First Independence (OTC: FFSL.OB), First Investors Fin’l Services (OTC: FIFS.PK), First Niagara (Nasdaq: FNFG), First Robinson (OTC: FRFC.OB), First Security Group (Nasdaq: FSGID), First South (Nasdaq: FSBK), Flagstar (NYSE: FBC), Flatbush Federal (OTC: FLTB.OB), Flushing Financial (Nasdaq: FFIC), Greene County (Nasdaq: GCBC), HF Financial (Nasdaq: HFFC), HMN Fin’l (Nasdaq: HMNF), Home Bancorp (Nasdaq: HBCP), Home Federal (Nasdaq: HOME), HopFed (Nasdaq: HFBC), Hudson City (Nasdaq: HCBK), Indiana Community (Nasdaq: INCB), Investors Bancorp (Nasdaq: ISBC), Jacksonville Bancorp (Nasdaq: JXSB), Jefferson Bancshares (Nasdaq: JFBI), Kaiser Federal (Nasdaq: KFFG), Kearny Fin’l (Nasdaq: KRNY), Kentucky First Federal (Nasdaq: KFFB), Lake Shore Bancorp (Nasdaq: LSBK), Louisiana Bancorp (Nasdaq: LABC), LSB Fin’l (Nasdaq: LSBI), Malvern Federal (Nasdaq: MLVF), Meridian Interstate (Nasdaq: EBSB), Meta Fin’l (Nasdaq: CASH), NASB Fin’l (Nasdaq: NASB), Naugatuck Valley (Nasdaq: NVSL), New England Bancshares (Nasdaq: NEBS), New Hampshire Thrift (Nasdaq: NHTB), New York Community (NYSE: NYB), North Central Bancshares (Nasdaq: FFFD), Northeast Community (Nasdaq: NECB), Northwest Bancshares (Nasdaq: NWBI), OceanFirst (Nasdaq: OCFC), Ocwen (NYSE: OCN), Oneida (Nasdaq: ONFC), Park Bancorp (Nasdaq: PFED), Parkvale Fin’l (Nasdaq: PVSA), Pathfinder Bancorp (Nasdaq: PBHC), People’s United (Nasdaq: PBCT), Provident Community (Nasdaq: PCBS), Provident Fin’l (Nasdaq: PROV), Provident Fin’l Services (NYSE: PFS), Provident New York (Nasdaq: PBNY), Prudential Bancorp of PA (Nasdaq: PBIP), PSB Holding (Nasdaq: PSBH), Pulaski Fin’l (Nasdaq: PULB), PVF Capital (Nasdaq: PVFC), QC Holding (Nasdaq: QCCO), River Valley Bancorp (Nasdaq: RIVR), Riverview Bancorp (Nasdaq: RVSB), Roma Fin’l (Nasdaq: ROMA), Salisbury Bancorp (AMEX: SAL), SI Financial (Nasdaq: SIFI), Southern Missouri (Nasdaq: SMBC), Sterling Fin’l (Nasdaq: STSA), Teche Holding (AMEX: TSH), TF Fin’l (Nasdaq: THRD), Timberland Bancorp (Nasdaq: TSBK), United Community (Nasdaq: UCBA), United Community Fin’l (Nasdaq: UCFC), United Fin’l Bancorp (Nasdaq: UBNK), Valley Fin’l (Nasdaq: VYFC), Washington Federal (Nasdaq: WFSL), Waterstone Fin’l (Nasdaq: WSBF), Wayne Savings (Nasdaq: WAYN), WSB Holdings (Nasdaq: WSB) and WVS Financial (Nasdaq: WVFC).

Please see our disclosures at the Wall Street Greek website and author bio pages found there. This article and website in no way offers or represents financial or investment advice. Information is provided for entertainment purposes only.

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