January 15th, 2009 5:31 PM by Lehel Szucs
Wednesday's bond market has opened strong following the release of weaker than expected economic news. The stock markets have reacted negatively to the news with the Dow down 266 points and the Nasdaq down 52 points. The bond market is currently up 21/32, which should improve this morning's mortgage rates by approximately .250 of a discount point.
December's Retail Sales results were the big news of the day. The Commerce Department reported that sales at retail level establishments fell 2.7% last month. This was more than twice the drop of 1.2% that was expected and the sixth consecutive monthly decline. This is the first time we have seen that long of a slump in approximately 40 years.
The release also revised November's sales lower than previously thought and gave us much weaker than expected results with volatile auto sales excluded. This indicates that consumer spending is weaker than many had assumed, which is good news for bonds and mor tgage rates because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. When consumer spending is soft and the overall economy is weakening, bonds become more attractive to investors. This usually leads to higher bond prices and lower mortgage rates.
Later today the Fed will release its Beige Book, detailing economic activity regionally throughout the U.S. The Fed uses this data during their Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings when deciding whether or not to change key short-term interest rates. Accordingly, its results can cause a fair amount of movement in the bond market and mortgage rates if it reveals any surprises. I am not expecting to see any surprises and no reaction in the markets from its contents.
The Labor Department will post the Producer Price Index (PPI) for December early tomorrow morning. This report is an important measure of inflation at the producer level of the economy. Rapidly rising prices raises inflation con cerns and leads to mortgage rate increases. If it reveals weaker than expected readings, especially in the core data that excludes more volatile food and energy prices, the bond market should fair well. Current expectations are calling for a 1.9% drop in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Float if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.
©Mortgage Commentary 2009