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Marketwatch – June 2012

I did say I wasn’t going to mention Europe again as I am sure we are all getting bored with it, although as I was finishing this article I got a tweet saying Spanish 10-year yields have broken through 6.9%, with Italian yields tracking them at 6.3%.

Looks like I have picked a good time for a week’s sojourn in Spain.

Meanwhile, events in the political arena seem to be mirrored in the sporting arena, with the Group of Debt countries struggling at Euro 2012.

A Greek exit seems more than likely – regrettably I picked it in the office sweepstake – while the Germans look like they have a team that can dominate for years. England is a steady safe haven, perhaps.

Anyway, to the markets and LIBOR is still stable just below 1%, while swap rates increased and then fell again, but still ended a touch up over the week.

Three-month LIBOR is unchanged at 0.99%.
1-year money is up 0.01 at 0.945%
2-year money is up 0.01 at 1.19%
3-year money is up 0.02 at 1.23%
5-year money is up 0.05 at 1.445%

There has been quite a lot of mortgage news to digest over the past few days.

It was interesting to see that Marks & Spencer has plans to set up a bank and come into the mortgage market.

The first branch is reported to be opening next month in the retailer’s flagship store in London’s Marble Arch, with a further 20 planned. This is good for consumers as there will be more choice, although as the bank is owned by HSBC, we shall have to wait and see if more money actually goes into the pot or if it just dilutes HSBC’s offering.

There could a brand risk for the high street giant as M&S prides itself on good service so it will be interesting to see whether it follows HSBC’s underwriting model.

Also, I hope borrowers will get the same levels of advice I get when I go there to buy my underwear – personally measured up.
An off-the-shelf product with no advice is not the way forward.

Also, Scotland is consulting on replacing Stampy Duty with a more progressive tax. The Scots may not be able to make the Euro 2012 stage, but full marks for trying to make a much-needed change. I hope it works and that our government takes note.

In product news, lenders still seem to be following the dipping in and out methodology, with ING Direct increasing rates by around 0.2% across the board and Northern Rock reducing rates on selected two, three and five-year fixed products by up to 0.36%.

Skipton has also reduced rates on some of its buy-to-let products, while Halifax hiked the rates on some of its product transfer rates, which was disappointing to see.

Abbey for Intermediaries is offering two five-year fixed rates and hiking the LTV on selected products from 60% to 70% LTV.

Heroes & Villains

Hero of the week
Dragonfly Property Finance for gaining Financial Services Authority regulation. It is leading the way in professionalising the short-term market along with Precise Mortgages and United Trust Bank.

Villain of the week
The FSA’s Money Advice Service. I was stunned by its £20m marketing spend out of a budget of £46.3m. Conservative Treasury sub-committee member Mark Garnier has said that “no-one knows what the point of it is”.

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