In a Double Barrel Bull Market, AI and Housing Rule the Roost

The Federal Reserve is still talking tough via its dot-plot, which forecasts two more interest rate increases before the end of 2023. But the markets are not agreeing. My money, for now, is with the markets.

As I pointed out in my January 2023 video for StockCharts TV’s Your Daily Five, despite constant worries from perplexed traders and dark pundit banter, a credible bottom formed. Since then, stocks have risen and now look set to move higher, likely with occasional pauses. That’s because the rally is broadening out via a rapid improvement in the market’s breadth, which is accompanying the new highs on the major indexes, as I describe later in the article.

In fact, we are currently in what I call a double barrel bull market, where two major groups are pulling the rest of the market higher. The one everyone knows is AI. The other, more quiet but equally bullish, is the housing sector.

Since lots of people have missed the rally and are now playing catch up, the upward momentum will keep going for a while. Of course, this rally can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t last forever. But if history is any guide, the rest of 2023 and much of 2024 have a built in upward bias, at least based on the phenomenon known as the Presidential Cycle; whose major premise is that the Fed raises rates in the first two years of a presidential term (which it has) and lowers them in the last two years (which seems highly likely).

AI Poster Child Makes New Highs

The poster child for the AI rally is the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ), as it houses the large-cap tech stocks, which are moving higher based on expectations of large profits in the future from increasing automation and whatever AI eventually delivers.

Last week, QQQ made another series of new highs. But, by Friday, it looked at bit tired. Thus, it makes sense to expect some sort of consolidation. A move back to the 20-day moving average is not out of the question.

Lennar’s Goldilocks Quarter

For the past several years, I’ve written extensively about the homebuilder stocks and related sectors. That’s because this area of the market continues to move higher. Moreover, the more negative investors become on the sector, the higher it goes.

In fact, as I detail in this Your Daily Five video, the homebuilders are in what can only be described as a bullish Megatrend, which shows no sign of slowing.

Take, for instance, the recent action in leading homebuilder Lennar (LEN), a longstanding holding in my Joe Duarte in the Money Options portfolio, and a personal holding. Its most recent earnings report blew past analysts’ expectations on both earnings and revenues as the company again offered a positive outlook. Naturally, the shares broke out to a new high.

What makes Lennar’s earnings most interesting is the company’s management of its inventory – not too hot, not too cold. Moreover, the company’s Executive Chairman Stuart Miller noted that home buyers have come to accept the “new normal” status of interest rates, adding “demand has accelerated.” He concluded by noting: “Simply put, America needs more housing, particularly affordable workforce housing, and demand is strong when price and interest rates are affordable.”

In other words, unless interest rates climb significantly higher, the housing sector, from the point of view of homebuilders, is in better shape than many investors may think.

And here is something else to consider. Lennar is trading at a P/E of 9.46, while Nvidia (NVDA), the biggest benefactor of the AI trend, is trading at a P/E of 54.91.

Bond Yields Hold their Ground

Bond yields remained below their recent top level of 3.8% as 262,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits, an increase of 17,000 from the prior week. In addition to the stable inflation pictured in CPI and the rolling over of producer prices (PPI) released earlier in the week, bond traders breathed a sigh of relief.

Buried in the jobless claims number were over 7,000 new filings in Texas, the highest number of new claims in the U.S. for the week. Let’s put this in some perspective. Based on recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the Lone Star State accounted for 7% of the total U.S. GDP. Moreover, in Q4 2022, Texas accounted for 9.5% of total U.S. GDP, which means the largest economy in the U.S. is starting to feel the pinch of the Fed’s rate hikes.

On the other hand, Texas has received the largest number of new residents of any state in the post-COVID period. All of which means that for now, even in a slower economy, there is still a tight supply of housing combined with high demand. Texas is not alone, as the sunbelt remains attractive to many people looking to escape high taxes and challenging employment situations.

This confluence of data, rising initial jobless claims, slowing inflation, and a coincident slowing of the Chinese economy has led to an encouraging reversal in U.S. Treasury bond yields, which will likely benefit the homebuilders. That’s because, with lower bond yields, we’re already seeing an increase in mortgage activity, as the chart above shows.

The 3.85% yield on the U.S. Ten Year Note remains 3.85%, roughly corresponding to 7% on the average 30-year mortgage. So, if yields remain below this level, the odds favor a continuation of the steady performance of the homebuilder sector.

Incidentally, I have expanded my coverage of the housing and real estate markets in a new section for members of my Buy me a Coffee page, where you will get the inside scoop on what’s happening in these important sectors. This crucial information complements the stock picks at Joe Duarte in the Money You can start by reviewing my extensive report on the outlook for the homebuilder sector here

NYAD Improves SPX and NDX Look to Consolidate

The New York Stock Exchange Advance Decline line (NYAD) continues to improve. As long as it’s above its 50-day moving average, that’s signaling stocks are back in an uptrend.

The Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) moved above 15,000 and is due for a pause. But in this market, any pause may be short-lived. ADI and OBV remain in bullish postures.

The S&P 500 (SPX) moved above 4400 and looks set to take a breather. As with NDX, any pause may not last. Both ADI and OBV look to be in good shape.

VIX Makes New Low

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) broke to another new low last week as call option buyers overwhelmed the market. As I noted last week, this is probably a little too much bullishness all at once, so I expect a bit of a bounce in VIX, which will likely lead to some backing and filling in the market.

When the VIX rises, stocks tend to fall, as rising put volume is a sign that market makers are selling stock index futures to hedge their put sales to the public. A fall in VIX is bullish, as it means less put option buying, and it eventually leads to call buying, which causes market makers to hedge by buying stock index futures. This raises the odds of higher stock prices.

Liquidity is Increasingly Stable as Fed Holds Rate Hikes

With the Fed on hold, the market’s liquidity is starting to move sideways, which is a positive. A move below 94 on the Eurodollar Index (XED) would be very bearish, while a move above 95 will be a bullish development. Usually, a stable or rising XED is very bullish for stocks.

To get the latest information on options trading, check out Options Trading for Dummies, now in its 4th Edition—Get Your Copy Now! Now also available in Audible audiobook format!

#1 New Release on Options Trading!

Good news! I’ve made my NYAD-Complexity – Chaos chart (featured on my YD5 videos) and a few other favorites public. You can find them here.

Joe Duarte

In The Money Options

Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader, and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst since 1987. He is author of eight investment books, including the best-selling Trading Options for Dummies, rated a TOP Options Book for 2018 by and now in its third edition, plus The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book and six other trading books.

The Everything Investing in Your 20s and 30s Book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It has also been recommended as a Washington Post Color of Money Book of the Month.

To receive Joe’s exclusive stock, option and ETF recommendations, in your mailbox every week visit

Joe Duarte

About the author:
Joe Duarte is a former money manager, an active trader and a widely recognized independent stock market analyst going back to 1987. His books include the best selling Trading Options for Dummies, a TOP Options Book for 2018, 2019, and 2020 by, Trading Review.Net 2020 and Market Timing for Dummies. His latest best-selling book, The Everything Investing Guide in your 20’s & 30’s, is a Washington Post Color of Money Book of the Month. To receive Joe’s exclusive stock, option and ETF recommendations in your mailbox every week, visit the Joe Duarte In The Money Options website.
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Mortgage points may help homebuyers lower monthly costs amid high interest rates. How to know if this strategy is right for you

As interest rates have climbed, homebuyers have been confronted with higher borrowing costs.

That has led more home purchasers to opt for one strategy, purchasing mortgage points, as a way to defray higher monthly payments.

Mortgage points let buyers pay an upfront fee to lower the interest rate on their loans. In some cases, sellers will help to buy down rates to help ease transaction costs.

Almost 45% of conventional primary home borrowers bought mortgage points in 2022 to reduce their monthly mortgage payments, a trend that has continued into this year, according to recent research from Zillow.

That is up from 29.6% in 2021, when interest rates were lower.

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The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently averages 6.7% according to Freddie Mac, up from 5.8% a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage now averages about 6%, up from 4.8% a year ago.

This week, the Federal Reserve decided to pause the interest rate hikes it has put in place to combat high inflation.

As rates stay higher, those who are in the market for a home lose purchasing power. Some experts have urged buyers to consider purchasing mortgage points to lower their monthly payments.

Stephanie Grubbs, a licensed real estate agent at the Zweben team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York, recently did exactly that when one of her clients lowered their asking price.

“This fabulous apartment just had a price reduction, which means you can use those savings to buy down your rate,” Grubbs wrote in the updated ad.

Grubbs, a former financial advisor, said her firm started bringing up the strategy more when the Fed started hiking interest rates.

“In an effort to try to be creative, we talk to sellers about offering to buy down a rate,” Grubbs said.

Other experts say buyers purchasing mortgage points can be a great strategy for the right situation.

That goes particularly if a buyer can afford the extra upfront costs.

Being able to lower that monthly payment can really help give some more wiggle room in people’s budgets and help them reach affordability.

Nicole Bachaud

senior economist at Zillow

Mortgage points refer to the percentage amount of the loan. Typically, one point is worth 1% of the loan value, according to Nicole Bachaud, senior economist at Zillow.

If the loan value is $300,000, one point would typically cost $3,000 and lower the interest rate 0.25 percentage points, she said.

“Being able to lower that monthly payment can really help give some more wiggle room in people’s budgets and help them reach affordability,” Bachaud said.

In addition to higher upfront costs, home buyers should also weigh other factors before buying mortgage points.

Collective Wealth Partners, a boutique advisory firm in Atlanta. Elliott is also a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

However, if you buy points and then refinance, that will not allow enough time for your upfront payment to appreciate, Elliott said.

Another important consideration is your timeline for how long you plan to live in the home.

With rates and home prices high, that means closing costs are also elevated, Elliott said.

Consequently, if you move before three to five years, you may take a bigger financial hit, she said.

“There could be a huge loss if you can’t stay in that property long enough to have those expenses amortized out over the time that you’re there,” Elliott said.

Consider other alternatives

Collective Wealth Partners CEO on how to start investing in real estate

Factor in the unknowns

How well any homebuying strategy fares in the long run depends on one big unknown: how the Federal Reserve will handle interest rates going forward.

The latest projections from the central bank call for two more rate hikes this year.

While today’s rates feel high, Elliott said she often reminds people that homebuyers in the 1980s would have loved to have had access to 6% mortgage rates.

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