January 15th, 2009 5:34 PM by Lehel Szucs
Thursday's bond market has opened fairly flat despite another round of sizable stock losses. The stock markets are continuing yesterday's selling with the Dow down 171 points and the Nasdaq down 25 points. The bond market is currently down 2/32, which will likely push this morning's mortgage rates higher by approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point.
The Labor Department gave us two pieces of economic news this morning. The first was the Producer Price Index (PPI) for December that revealed a decline of 1.9% in the overall reading. This matched forecasts, but the more important core reading that excludes more volatile food and energy prices rose 0.2% when it was expected to rise 0.1%. This indicates that prices at the producer level of the economy that do not include food or energy rose more than expected. That basically is bad news for the bond market because rising prices raises inflation concerns and makes long-term securities such as mortgage-rela ted bonds less attractive to investors. However, tomorrow's CPI reading that measures inflation at the consumer level of the economy is considered to be of more importance to the markets.
The second Labor Department release today was last week's initial unemployment claims filings. They reported that 524,000 new claims for benefits were filed last week, exceeding forecasts of 503,000. But since this data is a weekly reading, its results usually do not have much of an impact on the markets or mortgage pricing.
There are three relevant reports on the agenda for tomorrow. The first is December's Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is also one of the most important monthly reports that we see since it measures inflationary pressures at the consumer level of the economy. The overall index is expected to fall 1.0% while the core data is expected to increase 0.1%. Weaker than expected readings should lead to bond improvements and lower mortgage rates tomorrow since this is the most important of the three.
December's Industrial Production report is the second report to be posted tomorrow. It will be released at 9:15 AM ET and measures output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. This gives us a good indication of manufacturing sector strength or weakness. Current forecasts are calling for a decline of 0.8% from November's production. A larger than expected drop would be good news and should lead to lower mortgage rates Friday as long as the CPI doesn't reveal any surprises.
The final report of the week is January's preliminary reading to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment. This index measures consumer willingness to spend and can usually have enough of an impact on the financial markets to change mortgage rates. Good news would be if it shows a reading weaker than the 60.0 that is expected. However, it is the week's least important of the five releases and probably will have little im pact on tomorrow's mortgage rates due to the importance of the CPI and production reports.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Lock 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