What's New: I've updated the charts below through today's close. The S&P 500 is now up 14.06% for 2013, fractionally below its all-time closing high set yesterday. The yield on the 10-year note closed at 1.81%, up 15 bps from its interim low of 1.66% five sessions ago.
The latest Freddie Mac Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey puts the 30-year fixed at 3.42%, down from its interim high of 3.63% in mid-March but up seven basis points from last week. The all-time low was 3.31%, which dates from the third week in November of last year.
Here is a snapshot of selected yields and the 30-year fixed mortgage starting shortly before the Fed announced Operation Twist.
For a eye-opening context on the 30-year fixed, here is the complete Freddie Mac survey data from the Fed's repository. Many first-wave boomers (my household included) were buying homes in the early 1980s. At its peak in October 1981, the 30-year fixed was at 18.63 percent.
The 30-year fixed mortgage at the current level is a confirmation of a key aspect of the Fed's QE success, and the low yields have certainly reduced the pain of Uncle Sam's interest payments on Treasuries (although the yields are up from recent historic lows of last summer). But, as for loans to small businesses, the Fed strategy is a solution to a non-problem. Here's a snippet from the latest NFIB Small Business Economic Trends report:
Credit demands remained weak in March. Twenty-nine (29) percent reported all credit needs met, and 49 percent explicitly said they did not want a loan (64 percent including those who did not answer the question, presumably uninterested in borrowing as well). Seven percent of owners surveyed reported that all their credit needs were not met, unchanged from February and 3 points above the record low.
A Perspective on Yields Since 2007
The first chart shows the daily performance of several Treasuries and the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) since 2007. The source for the yields is the Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the New York Fed's website for the FFR.
Now let's see the 10-year against the S&P 500 with some notes on Federal Reserve intervention. Fed policy has been a major influence on market behavior, and the S&P 500, our market exemplar below, is, as I pointed out above, just at a new all-time high.
For a long-term view of weekly Treasury yields, also focusing on the 10-year, see my Treasury Yields in Perspective.