January 7th, 2009 9:54 AM by Lehel Szucs
Wednesday's bond market has opened up slightly following strength late yesterday and morning losses in stocks today. The Dow and Nasdaq are both showing weakness with losses of 158 points and 35 points respectively. The bond market is currently up 2/32, but due to late gains in bonds yesterday, we should see an improvement in this morning's mortgage rates of approximately .375 of a discount point.
Helping to boost bond prices late yesterday was the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. They indicated that the Fed feels the economy will continue to weaken with the GDP falling and unemployment rising next year. This eased some concerns in the bond market that the economy may strengthen with another economic stimulus package, making long-term securities such as bonds less attractive to investors.
There is no relevant economic data scheduled for release today and the only slightly relevant news scheduled for release tomorrow are weekly unemployment c laims from the Labor Department. They are expected to show that 550,000 new claims for benefits were filed last week. However, this data is not considered to be of high importance to the markets because it tracks a single week's worth of new claims.
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 neighborhood 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.
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