January 5th, 2009 9:23 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week bring us the release of only two monthly reports that are relevant to the bond market and mortgage rates. However, in addition to those two reports, we also will see the minutes from the last FOMC meeting and a couple of Treasury auctions that may influence bond trading and possibly mortgage rates.
The first of the two reports will be posted late Tuesday morning when the Commerce Department releases November's Factory Orders data. This data gives us a fairly important measurement of manufacturing sector strength. It is similar to the Durable Goods Orders release that was posted late last month, except this report includes orders for both durable and non-durable goods. Durable goods are items that are expected to last three or more years such as electronics and autos. Examples of non-durable goods are food and clothing. Analysts are expecting to see a decline of 2.6% in new orders. This report generally does not have a huge impact on the bond market or mortgage rates, but it can influence bond trading enough to create a minor change in rates.
Also Tuesday will be the release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. This will give market participants insight to the Fed's thinking and concerns regarding inflation and monetary policy. It may also help form opinions of the Fed's future moves toward interest rates, even though the Fed appears to be running out of options. It is one of those pieces of information that may cause a great deal of volatility in the markets or be a non-factor, depending on what the minutes show. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, so they shouldn't affect the markets or mortgage rates until afternoon hours.
There are two Treasury auctions that are worth watching also. The 10-year TIPS Notes (inflation-indexed securities) will be auctioned Tuesday while the traditional 10-year Treasury Note will be sold Thursday. If investor demand for these sales is strong, we should se e bonds strengthen during afternoon trading those days and possibly improve mortgage rates slightly. However, a lackluster interest in the sales could cause bond prices to fall and mortgage rates to move higher following the announcement of the sale results.
The final report of the week comes Friday morning when the Labor Department will post December's employment figures. The Employment report is considered to be one of the most important monthly releases we see. It gives us the national unemployment rate, the number of jobs added or lost during the month and average hourly earnings, which is a key measure of wage inflation. Rising unemployment, a larger than expected drop in new payrolls and a small increase or even a decline in earnings would be good news for the bond market.
Current forecasts call for a 0.3% increase in the unemployment rate, pushing it to 7.0%. Analysts are expecting to see a drop in payrolls in the neighborhoo d of 475,000 with earnings rising 0.2%. If we see weaker than expected results, mortgage rates should improve Friday. However, stronger than expected readings will likely push mortgage rates higher.
Overall, the key data of the week will be Friday's Employment report, but look for Tuesday to be important with the economic data, FOMC minutes and one of the two more important Treasury auctions. If they give us favorable results, mortgage rates will likely move lower for the week. But if not, we will probably see mortgage rates move higher again.
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... Lock if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Lock 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 guarante ed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.
©Mortgage Commentary 2009