Stock rally, rate-cut forecasts face test from Powell testimony and jobs report

A four-month-long U.S. stock market rally, partly fueled by investors’ expectations for interest rate cuts in 2024 by the Federal Reserve, faces a test posed by pair of big events in the week ahead.

The first is Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s semiannual testimony to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by Friday’s official jobs report for February.

Of the two, the nonfarm payrolls data has the potential to move markets more, given what it could signal about the risk that inflation may keep running hot if job gains come in above the 190,000 consensus expectation, according to analysts and investors.

“Inflation has bottomed out, but is still above the Fed’s objective and it seems like more labor-market weakness is going to be needed,” said John Luke Tyner, a portfolio manager at Alabama-based Aptus Capital Advisors, which manages $5.5 billion in assets. “The headlines we’ve been seeing on technology-related layoffs are missing the mark because there’s a resurgence of employment and wage growth in Middle America.”

January’s data proves the point. The month of February began with the release of January nonfarm payrolls, which showed 353,000 jobs created and a sharp 0.6% rise in average hourly earnings for all employees, despite the highest interest rates in more than two decades.

Then came a round of inflation data. Consumer- and producer-price readings were both above expectations for January, followed by last Thursday’s release of the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, known as the PCE, which showed the monthly pace of underlying price gains rising at the fastest pace in almost a year. Meanwhile, personal income grew at a monthly rate of 1% in January.

Fed-funds futures traders have since pared back their expectations for as many as six or seven quarter-percentage point rate cuts by December, and moved closer in line with the three reductions that the Fed signaled would likely be appropriate. However, this has still been enough to hand the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA
and S&P 500
SPX
their best start to a year since 2019, and fueled a four-month rally in all three major indexes. For the week, the S&P 500 rose 1% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.7%, but the Dow Jones slipped 0.1%, based on FactSet data.

Broadly speaking, Powell is expected to stick to his script by emphasizing the need for greater confidence that inflation is falling toward the Fed’s 2% objective, before policymakers can cut the fed-funds rate target from its current range of 5.25% to 5.5%, analysts said. He’s seen as loath to say anything just yet that could move markets or rate expectations.

“Powell needs to avoid doing what he did in November and December, which was to juice the market with a very bullish message suggesting that policymakers might be done with hiking rates and that the next moves would be rate cuts,” Tyner said via phone. “The Fed needs to remain unified about the need to be patient, with no rush to cut rates, and about being data dependent, with the current data pointing toward not cutting until later this year.”

Read: No Fed rate cuts in 2024, Wall Street economist warns investors

Aptus Capital’s strategies rely on the use of options overlays to improve results, and the firm is “well-positioned” to capture both upside and downside moves in the market because of a “disciplined approach on hedges in both directions,” the portfolio manager said.

Others see some possibility that Powell’s testimony to the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee produces one of two non-base-case results: He could either push back on expectations around the timing or extent of Fed rate cuts this year, or, on the flip side, hint at the need for maintenance rate cuts because of prospects for softer inflation and economic readings going forward.

The rates market is the mechanism by which financial markets would likely react one way or another to Powell’s testimony and Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report — specifically with trading in fed-funds futures and Secured Overnight Financing Rate futures. Any reaction in the futures market would simultaneously impact longer-term Treasurys and risk assets, according to Mike Sanders, head of fixed income at Wisconsin-based Madison Investments, which manages $23 billion in assets.

Fed officials are not likely to have enough confidence that they’ve won the battle against inflation by June, raising the question of whether markets are overestimating policymakers’ ability to start cutting rates by that month, Sanders said via phone.

“Fed officials are more or less committed to cutting rates when appropriate, but are concerned that if they cut too soon they’ll have sticky inflation,” he said.

“The services side continues to be higher than the Fed wants, with much of the disinflation coming from the goods side,” Sanders said. Inflation dynamics are “still not in balance from the Fed’s perspective, and the services side has to be concerning to policymakers, especially in the face of the personal-income growth we’ve seen. It’s going to be status quo until the Fed knows whether the higher inflation prints seen in January were a one-off or if this continues.’’

Analysts said they are particularly worried about supercore inflation, a measure of core services that excludes housing, which is still running at levels which suggest that the services side of the U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders.

No major U.S. data is scheduled for release on Monday. Tuesday brings January factory orders and ISM service sector activity figures for February.

On Wednesday, data releases include ADP’s private-sector employment report, January readings on wholesale inventories and job openings, and the Fed’s Beige Book report. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly is also set to speak that day.

Thursday’s data batch includes weekly initial jobless benefit claims, a revision on fourth-quarter productivity, the U.S. trade balance, and consumer-credit figures. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is also scheduled to make an appearance. Friday brings an appearance by New York Fed President John Williams and final consumer-sentiment data for February.

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#Stock #rally #ratecut #forecasts #face #test #Powell #testimony #jobs #report

Former hedge fund star says this is what will trigger the next bear market.

Much of Wall Street expects easing inflation, but an overshoot could dash hopes of a May rate cut, curtailing the S&P 500’s
SPX
waltz with 5,000, warn some.

Read: Arm’s frenzied stock rally continues as AI chase trumps valuation.

What might take this market down eventually? Our call of the day from former hedge-fund manager Russell Clark points to Japan, an island nation whose central bank is one of the last holdouts of loose monetary policy.

Note, Clark bailed on his perma bear RC Global Fund back in 2021 after wrongly betting against stocks for much of a decade. But he’s got a whole theory on why Japan matters so much.

In his substack post, Clark argues that the real bear-market trigger will come when the Bank of Japan ends quantitative easing. For starters, he argues we’re in a “pro-labor world” where a few things should be playing out: higher wages and lower jobless levels and interest rates higher than expected. Lining up with his expectations, real assets started to surge in late 2023 when the Fed started to go dovish, and the yield curve began to steepen.

From that point, not everything has been matching up so easily. He thought higher short-term rates would siphon off money from speculative assets, but then money flowed into cryptos like Tether and the Nasdaq recovered completely from a 2022 rout.

“I have been toying with the idea that semiconductors are a the new oil – and hence have become a strategic asset. This explains the surge in the Nasdaq and the Nikkei to a degree, but does not really explain tether or bitcoin very well,” he said.

So back to Japan and his not so popular explanation for why financial/speculative assets continue to trade so well.

“The Fed had high interest rates all through the 1990s, and dot-com bubble developed anyway. But during that time, the Bank of Japan only finally raised interest rates in 1999 and then the bubble burst,” he said.

He notes that when Japan began to tighten rates in late 2006, “everything started to unwind,” adding that the BOJ’s brief attempts [to] raise rates in 1996 could be blamed for the Asian Financial Crisis.

In Clark’s view, markets seem to have moved more with the Japan’s bank balance sheet than the Fed’s. The BOJ “invented” quantitative easing in the early 2000s, and the subprime crisis started not long after it removed that liquidity from the market in 2006, he notes.

“For really old investors, loose Japanese monetary policy also explained the bubble economy of the 1980s. BOJ Balance Sheet and S&P 500 have decent correlation in my book,” he said, offering the below chart:


Capital Flows and Asset Markets, Russell Clark.

Clark says that also helps explains why higher bond yields haven’t really hurt assets. “As JGB 10 yields have risen, the BOJ has committed to unlimited purchases to keep it below 1%,” he notes.

The two big takeaways here? “BOJ is the only central bank that matters…and that we need to get bearish the U.S. when the BOJ raises interest rates. Given the moves in bond markets and food inflation, this is a matter of time,” said Clark who says in light of his plans for a new fund, “a bear market would be extremely useful for me.” He’s watching the BOJ closely.

The markets

Pre-data, stock futures
ES00,
-0.41%

NQ00,
-0.80%

are down, while Treasury yields
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

BX:TMUBMUSD02Y
hold steady. Oil
CL.1,
+0.79%

and gold
GC00,
+0.46%

are both higher. The Nikkei 225 index
JP:NIK
tapped 38,000 for the first time since 1990.

Key asset performance

Last

5d

1m

YTD

1y

S&P 500

5,021.84

1.60%

4.98%

5.28%

21.38%

Nasdaq Composite

15,942.55

2.21%

6.48%

6.20%

34.06%

10 year Treasury

4.181

7.83

11.45

30.03

42.81

Gold

2,038.10

-0.17%

-0.75%

-1.63%

9.33%

Oil

77.14

5.96%

6.02%

8.15%

-2.55%

Data: MarketWatch. Treasury yields change expressed in basis points

The buzz

Due at 8:30 a.m., January headline consumer prices are expected to dip to 2.9% for January, down from 3.4% in December and the lowest since March 2021. Monthly inflation is seen at 0.3%.

Biogen
BIIB,
+1.56%

stock is down on disappointing results and a slow launch for its Alzheimer’s treatment. A miss is also hitting Krispy Kreme
DNUT,
+1.99%
,
Coca-Cola
KO,
+0.24%

is up on a revenue rise, with Hasbro
HAS,
+1.38%
,
Molson Coors
TAP,
+3.12%

and Marriott
MAR,
+0.74%

still to come, followed by Airbnb
ABNB,
+4.20%
,
Akamai
AKAM,
-0.13%

and MGM Resorts
MGM,
+0.60%

after the close. Hasbro stock is plunging on an earnings miss.

JetBlue
JBLU,
+2.19%

is surging after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a near 10% stake and said his firm is discussing possible board representation.

Tripadvisor stock
TRIP,
+3.04%

is up 10% after the travel-services platform said it was considering a possible sale.

In a first, Russia put Estonia’s prime minister on a “wanted” list. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate approved aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Best of the web

Why chocolate lovers will pay more this Valentine’s Day than they have in years

A startup wants to harvest lithium from America’s biggest saltwater lake.

Online gambling transactions hit nearly 15,000 per second during the Super Bowl.

The chart

Deutsche Bank has taken a deep dive into the might of the Magnificent Seven, and why they will continue to matter for investors. One reason? Nearly 40% of the world still doesn’t have internet access as the bank’s chart shows:

Top tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-2.81%
Tesla

NVDA,
+0.16%
Nvidia

ARM,
+29.30%
Arm Holdings

PLTR,
+2.75%
Palantir Technologies

NIO,
+2.53%
Nio

AMC,
+4.11%
AMC Entertainment

AAPL,
-0.90%
Apple

AMZN,
-1.21%
Amazon.com

MARA,
+14.19%
Marathon Digital

TSM,
-1.99%
NIO

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#hedge #fund #star #trigger #bear #market

Stock-market rally faces Fed, tech earnings and jobs data in make-or-break week

Stock-market investors may take their cues from a series of important events in the week ahead, including the Federal Reserve’s monetary-policy meeting, a closely-watched December employment report and an onslaught of earnings from megacap technology names, which all promise insight into the state of the economy and interest-rate outlook. 

The benchmark S&P 500 index
SPX
Thursday closed at a record high for five straight trading days, the longest streak of its kind since November 2021. The index finished slightly lower on Friday, but clinched weekly gains of 1.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite
COMP
advanced 1% and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA
gained 0.7% for the week, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

“What we’re seeing is the market participants are still playing catch-up from 2023, putting money on the sidelines to work,” said Robert Schein, chief investment officer at Blanke Schein Wealth Management.

“Wall Street is still back at it trying to eke out gains as quickly as possible, so it’s very short-term oriented until we get big market-moving events,” he said, adding that one of the events could well be “a disappointing Fed speech.”

Fed’s Powell has good reasons to push back on rate cuts

Expectations that the Fed would begin easing monetary policy as early as March after its fastest tightening cycle in four decades have helped fuel a rally in U.S. stock- and bond-markets. Investors now mostly expect five or six quarter-point rate cuts by December, bringing the fed-funds rate down to around 4-4.25% from the current range of 5.25-5.5%, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. 

See: Economic growth underlined by fourth-quarter GDP reinforces Fed’s cautious approach to rate cuts

While no interest-rate change is expected for the central bank’s first policy meeting this year, some market analysts think comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell during his news conference on Wednesday are likely to shift the market’s expectations and push back against forecasts of a March cut. 

Thierry Wizman, global FX and interest rates strategist at Macquarie, said a stock-market rally, “too-dovish” signals from the Fed’s December meeting, a still-resilient labor market and escalating Middle East conflicts may indicate that Powell has to keep the “[monetary] tightening bias” next week. 

The rally in the stock market could “conceivably backfire” by virtue of a loosening of financial conditions, while the labor market has not weakened to the extent that the Fed officials would have hoped, Wizman told MarketWatch in a phone interview on Friday.

Further complicating things, fears that inflation could spike again in light of the conflict in the Middle East and Red Sea could reinforce Fed’s cautious approach to rate cuts, he said. 

See: Oil traders aren’t panicking over Middle East shipping attacks. Here’s why.

Meanwhile, a shift to “neutral bias” doesn’t automatically mean that the Fed will cut the policy rate soon since the Fed still needs to go to “easing bias” before actually trimming rates, Wizman said. “I think the market gets too dovish and does not realize the Fed has very, very good reasons to push this [the first rate cut] out to June.” 

Markets are ‘laser-focused’ on January employment report

Labor-market data could also sway U.S. financial markets in the week ahead, serving as the “big swing factor” for the economy, said Patrick Ryan, head of multi-asset solutions at Madison Investments. 

Investors have been looking for clear signs of a slowing labor market that could prompt the central bank to start cutting rates as early as March. That bet may be tested as soon as Friday with the release of nonfarm payroll data for January.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal estimate that U.S. employers added 180,000 jobs in January, down from a surprisingly strong 216,000 in the final month of 2023. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 3.8% from 3.7% in the prior month, keeping it near a half century low. Wage gains are forecast to cool a bit to 0.3% in January after a solid 0.4% gain in December. 

“That’s going to have everyone laser-focused,” Ryan told MarketWatch via phone on Thursday. “Anything that shows you real weakness in the labor market is going to question if the equity market is willing to trade at 20 plus times (earnings) this year.” The S&P 500 is trading at 20.2 times earnings as of Friday afternoon, according to FactSet data. 

Six of ‘Magnificent 7’ may continue to drive S&P 500 earnings higher

This coming week is also packed with earnings from some of the big tech names that have fueled the stock-market rally since last year. 

Five of the so-called Magnificent 7 technology companies will provide earnings starting from next Tuesday when Alphabet Inc.
GOOG,
+0.10%

and Microsoft Corp.
MSFT,
-0.23%

take center stage, followed by results from Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-0.90%
,
Amazon.com
AMZN,
+0.87%

and Meta Platforms
META,
+0.24%

on Thursday. 

Of the remaining two members of the “Magnificent 7,” Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
+0.34%

has reported earlier this week with its results “massively disappointing” Wall Street, while Nvidia Corp.’s
NVDA,
-0.95%

results will be coming out at the end of February.

See: Here’s why Nvidia, Microsoft and other ‘Magnificent Seven’ stocks are back on top in 2024

A number of the companies in the “Magnificent 7” have seen their stock prices hit record-high levels in recent weeks, which could help to drive the value of the S&P 500 higher, said John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet Research. He also said these stocks are projected to drive earnings higher for the benchmark index in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In One Chart: Tech leads stock market’s January rally by wide margin. Watch out for February.

In aggregate, Nvidia, Alphabet, Amazon.com, Apple, Meta Platforms, and Microsoft are expected to report year-over-year earnings growth of 53.7% for the fourth quarter of last year, while excluding these six companies, the blended earnings decline for the remaining 494 companies in the S&P 500 would be 10.5%, Butters wrote in a Friday client note.

“Overall, the blended earnings decline for the entire S&P 500 for Q4 2023 is 1.4%,” he said. 

Check out! On Watch by MarketWatch, a weekly podcast about the financial news we’re all watching — and how that’s affecting the economy and your wallet. MarketWatch’s Jeremy Owens trains his eye on what’s driving markets and offers insights that will help you make more informed money decisions. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple.  

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#Stockmarket #rally #faces #Fed #tech #earnings #jobs #data #makeorbreak #week

Silver’s window of opportunity is closing, with prices poised for an ‘explosive move’ in 2024

Silver prices could be headed for an “explosive” rise in 2024 if global supplies continue to fall short of demand, and the Federal Reserve makes good on its plans to pivot to interest rate cuts in the coming months, according to metal-markets analysts.

While silver this year has underperformed gold, which saw prices touch record highs this year, the opportunity to snap up silver at bargain prices may be brief.

“The window for buying silver in the low- to mid-$20s is ending,” said Peter Spina, president of silver news and information provider SilverSeek.com.

It is likely that silver prices next year will be pushing up toward the major $30-an-ounce technical resistance, he told MarketWatch, adding that he “fully” believes that the price barrier will fall. 

On Thursday, the most-active March contract for silver futures
SIH24,
-0.95%

SI00,
-0.95%

settled at $24.39 an ounce on Comex, with prices up 6.4% for the session to erase what had been a loss for the year. It traded 1.4% higher year to date, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Gold futures
GCG24,
-0.43%

GC00,
-0.43%
,
on the other hand, settled at $2.044.90 Thursday, up 2.4% for the session, up 12% for the year so far, and trading close to its record finish of $2,089.70 from Dec. 1.

Silver’s underperformance

Generally, silver moves with gold much more than with other commodities such as copper or oil, and silver’s moves tend to be bigger than gold’s as a percentage, said Keith Weiner, chief executive officer of Monetary Metals.

That’s what happened with silver’s recent move lower, he said. Silver, on Wednesday, tallied an eighth consecutive session loss, marking the longest streak of losses in just over a year and a half.

Both gold and silver had experienced similar trends in terms of “lack of investment demand” due to rising interest rates, said Chris Mancini, research analyst at Gabelli Funds. This has primarily manifested in outflows from both gold- and silver-backed exchange-traded funds, he said.

The iShares Silver Trust
SLV,
which holds 441.47 million ounces of silver, has seen a year-to-date net asset value return of negative 0.3% as of Thursday.

Gold, however, has benefited from a surge in demand this year from central banks, which are buying gold to “diversify out of the U.S. dollar,” said Mancini.

Read: Global central-bank gold purchases reach a record high for the first 9 months of the year

Also see: Gold just hit a record high. Is it too late for investors to add it to portfolios?

Solid economic performance this year around the world, and specifically in the U.S., led to higher short-term rates from the Fed and other central banks, and the “subsequent decline in investor demand for gold and silver,” Mancini said.

Global physical investment demand for silver is forecast at 263 million ounces this year, down 21% from 333 million ounces in 2022, the Silver Institute reported in mid-November, citing data from Metals Focus.

Change of course

Silver prices rallied by late Wednesday afternoon, after the Federal Reserve penciled in three interest-rate cuts in 2024, instead of the two that were projected in September. 

That marked quite a change, as prices for silver had been trading lower for the year before that rally.

Prospects for an end to the Fed’s rate-hiking cycle weakened the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields, providing support for dollar-denominated gold prices — and silver along with them.

Read: Gold futures leap closer to record highs in one fell swoop

The Fed decision “put a reversal on industrial demand fears,” so the temporary pressure brought on by those fears has been removed, said Spina.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday had said officials from the central bank were starting to discuss when to cut interest rates.

New York Federal Reserve President John Williams appeared to walk back on those comments, telling CNBC Friday that Fed officials weren’t really talking about cutting rates right now.

At some point, the Fed is going to have to reverse course on interest rates, said Monetary Metals’ Weiner.

“When they do, it will be a catalyst for higher gold and silver prices, “perhaps much higher,” he said. “We are in a secular bull market now — this is not the bear market of 2012-2018.”

Bullish fundamentals

Global supply of silver, meanwhile, is expected to fall short of demand this year, for a third year in a row.

The “fundamentals for the silver market are extremely bullish,” Spina said, particularly with a structural deficit continuing for silver.

The report from the Silver Institute showed that global industrial demand for silver is expected to grow by 8% to a record 632 million ounces this year, buoyed by investment in photovoltaics — used in solar technology — power grid and 5G networks, growth in consumer electronics, and rising vehicle output.

The report showed 2023 global silver supply estimated at about 1 billion ounces, while total demand is seen at a larger 1.143 billion ounces. Metals Focus said it believes the deficit will “persist in the silver market for the foreseeable future.”

“The only last big driver missing for silver prices to explode is investor interest,” said Spina.

Keep in mind that silver is a “precious green metal,” he said. It benefits from strong growth in mandated green energy demand, which will continue to “push industrial demand to fresh records.”

Meanwhile, silver inventory stocks are being “drained,” as a structural deficit for physical silver competes for remaining inventories, said Spina.

“If the gold price is moving to record price highs in the coming weeks, silver is in the perfect set-up to test $30, with a likely breakout to $50…coming in 2024.”


— Peter Spina, SilverSeek.com

He expects silver prices to “re-challenge” $30 an ounce within the coming months, “if not sooner.”

Watch gold prices for the initial direction, he said. “If the gold price is moving to record price highs in the coming weeks, silver is in the perfect set-up to test $30, with a likely breakout to $50 [and ounce] coming in 2024.”

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#Silvers #window #opportunity #closing #prices #poised #explosive #move

‘We’ve become a renting nation’: Landlords benefit from high house prices, but millions of renters find themselves trapped

When Nashville, Tenn., native Stephen Parker recently listed a mobile home that he owns on the rental market, he received about 30 applications in one week. “I priced it competitively,” he said.

Parker, who is also a real-estate agent, said that he sees rent growth staying strong as many people find it too expensive to purchase homes, a situation made worse by low inventory and high interest rates.

He bought his first investment property in 2020, and his portfolio of rentals has since grown. He owns various properties, including a small mobile home park, a duplex and several single-family homes. 

“We’ve become a renting nation,” Henry Stimler, an executive in the multifamily capital-markets division at the real-estate firm Newmark, told MarketWatch.

Renters have more flexibility and fewer of the responsibilities that come with home ownership, Stimler said, and they can more easily move to other cities and states. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said.

Nashville, for its part, was ranked one of the hottest real-estate markets of 2023 by Zillow
Z,
-0.72%
.
But with the surge in interest rates and demand, new residents may find buying property in that city expensive.

Stephen Parker, a landlord and real-estate agent from Tennessee, said demand for his rentals has been strong.


Stephen Parker

With homeownership continuing to be out of reach for many, landlords like Parker are poised to benefit. “You may be better off renting, especially if you don’t know if Nashville is where you’re going to be forever,” Parker told MarketWatch. 

Mortgage rates began climbing after the U.S. Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in early 2022. On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said the 30-year rate was averaging 6.48%, up from 3.22% in early 2022.

Higher rates have added hundreds of dollars in interest costs to home buyers’ monthly payments. Buyers have subsequently seen the amount they can afford to pay for a house shrink, even as there are fewer homes for sale.

The U.S. economic outlook remains unclear — a situation compounded by the crisis in the banking sector. Many Americans are worried about job security and financial stability and are reluctant to purchase a home, according to Fannie Mae
FNMA,
-1.41%
.

Some good news: Rents appear to have stabilized. The government’s analysis of the housing sector shows that rents grew 0.8% in February, pushing the increase over the past year to a 42-year high of 8.8%. However, research from private sources — such as Apartment List — indicates that rent growth has slowed. After five straight months in which rents fell, national rents rose by 0.3% in February, the company said. 

‘I just want roots’

Jennifer Mark, a 49-year-old autotransfusionist in Goshen, Ind., lives in a $625-a-month one-bedroom apartment with her adult daughter and her husband. She’s been selling cupcake toppers on Etsy to bring in extra money.

But thanks to medical bills that are weighing on her credit score, Mark is not yet able to qualify for a Federal Housing Administration-backed loan and can’t purchase a home, although she has a budget of about $150,000.

Finding a two-bedroom to rent would make homeownership an even more distant prospect. The higher monthly rent would make it difficult for her to save for a home and to pay off the debts that are keeping her credit score low.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Goshen is $925 per month, up 12% from a year ago, according to Rent.com. For a decent apartment, the cost is closer to $1,200. “My God, rent is so high,” she said.

Renting also comes with restrictions. “If I’m going to be paying this much for rent, then I may as well own and be able to do what I want with my house and not have someone tell me, ‘Oh, you can’t have a cat. You can’t have a dog,’” she said.

She needs to pay off medical bills so she can achieve a credit score of at least 580 — a level she’s already surpassed on newer credit-scoring models not often used by mortgage lenders, like FICO 8 — and qualify for a loan.

Renting does have some perks, she said. She doesn’t have to worry about paying for plumbing or furnace issues, for instance. But owning a home is still her dream, and it remains out of reach. “I just want roots,” Mark said.

A generation of renters? 

The data shows a mixed picture for renters: While the U.S. is building a ton of apartments, home prices aren’t expected to fall enough to make owning one affordable for many lower-income Americans.

There are currently over 940,000 apartments under construction in the U.S., up 24.9% from a year ago, which is helping to address demand. The number of multifamily units under construction is at its highest level since 1974. 

But the supply is not helping all Americans equally. The U.S. is short approximately 7.3 million affordable, available rental homes for extremely low-income tenants, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

One of Stephen Parker’s rental units.


Stephen Parker

Newer units, meanwhile, have been targeted at higher-income renters, wrote Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a senior research associate at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, in a blog post this month.

And while rent growth has moderated for more expensive apartments in more sought-after neighborhoods, Airgood-Obrycki wrote, prices were rising faster at the end of last year for the lowest-quality units. 

Landlords are slowing rent increases, Redfin
RDFN,
-5.08%

deputy chief economist Taylor Marr said in a recent report, “because they’re grappling with a rise in vacancies as an influx of new apartments hits the market.” 

Renters — particularly in the multifamily sector — are more likely to stay put due to high interest rates, Stimler said.

“Those who bought apartment buildings last year and locked in historically low rates before rates started rising, they’re going to be okay, because less and less of their tenants are going to leave and become homeowners,” Stimler said. 

Some Americans feel like they are becoming a generation of permanent renters, losing out on the “American dream” of owning a home and building wealth through real estate. But Stimler said he did not think that was necessarily a bad thing. 

“Our parents got married at 21 or 22, settled down, bought a home, got on the property ladder, and that was their first property purchase,” Stimler said. “That was a huge milestone then. Today, we don’t have that need anymore.”

“Millennials are much more transient,” he said. “They want to be able to pick up and leave, and go anywhere [and have] the ability to work from anywhere. All of these factors have led to a decline in the demand for single-family homes.”

Wherever you stand on that particular debate, one thing is clear: Landlords are benefiting from an increasingly unaffordable housing market, while millions of renters in the U.S. find themselves trapped.

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison,” Stimler said.

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