January 29th, 2009 1:10 PM by Lehel Szucs
Thursday's bond market has opened in negative territory, continuing yesterday afternoon's selling. The stock markets are also showing losses as they give back a good portion of yesterday's gains. The Dow is currently down 154 points while the Nasdaq has lost 36 points. The bond market is currently down 8/32, which will push this morning's mortgage rates approximately .125 - .250 higher than yesterday's revised rates. This should equate to approximately .500 of a discount point higher than yesterday's morning rates.
This morning's economic data actually gave us favorable results. The Commerce Department said that new orders for big-ticket items, or Durable Goods, fell 2.6% last month. This was a larger than expected decline, but making the news even better was a significant reduction to November's orders that was revised from down 1.0 to down 3.7%. This means that orders for products that are expected to last or more years were lower than expected. This is considered good news for bonds because it indicates a still weakening manufacturing sector.
December's New Home Sales report was also posted this morning, revealing a sharp decline in sales of newly constructed homes. The 14.7% drop in December's sales were the weakest level of sales since records started being kept on them in 1963. This indicates a still softening housing sector that is generally good news for bonds.
There are three reports scheduled for release tomorrow. The first 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 tomorrow 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 5.4%. A weaker reading would be great news for the bond market, but the 5.4% decline would be the biggest quarterly drop in 26 years.
The 4th Quarter Employment Cost Index (ECI) is also scheduled for release early tomorrow 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 tomorrow 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 co nfidence, 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. It is expected to show no change from the preliminary reading of 61.9.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock 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