January 26th, 2009 9:48 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week is extremely busy in terms of economic data scheduled for release and will likely be another active week for mortgage rates. The number of releases is actually irrelevant due to the importance of the some of the reports. There are eight economic releases scheduled for the week in addition to the first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year. All but two of the releases scheduled are considered to be of moderate or high importance, meaning we should see quite a bit of movement in mortgage rates again this week.
The first report of the week is tomorrow's release of December's Existing Home Sales. It gives us a measurement of housing sector strength by tracking sales of newly constructed homes. It is one of the week's least important reports, therefore, it will likely not have a significant impact on bond trading or mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for a small decline in sales.
December's Le ading Economic Indicators (LEI) will also be posted late tomorrow morning. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months. It is considered to be of moderate importance to the bond and mortgage markets. Analysts are currently expecting to see a 0.3% decline, meaning that economic growth over the next few months will likely slow. A larger than expected drop would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but an unexpected rise could lead to bond selling and an increase to mortgage rates tomorrow morning.
January's Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) will be released Tuesday morning. This report is considered to be of high-importance to the bond market and therefore can move mortgage rates. It is an indicator of consumer sentiment, which is important because a decline would be construed as a sign that consumers may be less willing to make large purchases in the near future. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, market participants are very attentive to related data. A reading smaller than the expected 38.0 would be ideal for the bond market and mortgage rates.
There is no factual economic data scheduled for release Wednesday, but we will get the results of this year's first FOMC meeting. It will begin Tuesday and adjourn at 2:15 PM ET Wednesday. It is expected to yield no change to short-term interest rate, but as is often the case, traders will be looking for any indication of the Fed's next move. However, I am not expecting this meeting to have a major impact on the markets or mortgage rates because the Fed can't lower key rates much more. There is little chance of indicating a possible rate hike in the near future, so I don't believe that this meeting will have the influence they usually do.
Thursday morning brings us the release of December's Durable Goods Orders. This data helps us measure manufactu ring strength by tracking new orders at U.S. factories for products that are expected to last three or more years. The data often is quite volatile from month to month, but is currently expected to show a decline in orders of 1.8%. A larger than expected drop would be good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
December's New Home Sales report, the sister release to Monday's Existing Home Sales, will be posted late Thursday morning. It is expected to show another decline in sales of new homes, but is not important enough to heavily influence mortgage pricing.
Next up is Friday, which has three reports scheduled for release. The first of them is one of the most important reports that we see regularly. The initial reading of the 4th Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be posted early Friday morning. This data is so important because it is considered to be the best measure of economic growth. The GDP itself is the total sum of all goods and services produced in the United States. Its' results usually have a major impact on the financial markets and can cause significant changes in mortgage rates. There are three readings to each quarter's activity, each released approximately one month apart. The first, which usually carries the most volatility, is expected to be a decrease of 5.2%. A weaker reading would be great news for the bond market, but the 5.2% decline would be the biggest quarterly drop in 26 years.
The 4th Quarter Employment Cost Index (ECI) is also scheduled for release early Friday morning. It measures employer costs for employee wages and benefits, giving us an indication of the threat of wage inflation. It usually has more of an effect on the bond market than the stock markets. Current forecasts are showing an increase of 0.7%. A lower than expected reading would be favorable to bonds and mortgage rates, but the GDP reading will be the biggest influence on trading and rates F riday morning.
The last report of the week is the revised reading to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment. This index measures consumer confidence, which is thought to indicate consumer willingness to spend. I don't see this data having much of an impact on the markets or mortgage rates due to the importance of the employment index and GDP figures.
Overall, look for Tuesday or Friday to be the biggest days for mortgage rates. Friday's GDP is the single most important piece of data this week, but we may see quite a bit of movement in rates Tuesday also. If we see weaker than expected results from the most important reports, we should see rates close the week much lower than last Friday's closing levels. If the data shows stronger than expected results, we may see mortgage rates move higher again this week. This is of course, assuming that the Fed meeting doesn't reveal any surprises. I strongly recommend that fai rly constant contact is maintained with your mortgage professional this week if still floating an interest rate.
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