October 13th, 2008 9:20 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week brings us the release of seven economic reports that are of interest to the mortgage market. The week also gets heavy in quarterly earnings releases for companies, which could cause significant movement in the stock markets again. The earnings results could affect bond trading as investors move funds into stocks if the reports are good. The other possibility is that the earnings reports would generally disappoint, meaning investors may move funds out of stocks and into bonds as a safe-haven. The latter would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.
The bond market is closed tomorrow in observance of the Columbus Day holiday and will reopen Tuesday morning. The first pieces of data come Wednesday morning, which are two of the week's more important releases. The first is September's Retail Sales report. This data is very important to the markets because it measures consumer spending by tracking sales at retail establishments in the U.S. S ince consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is considered to be highly important. If we see weaker than expected readings in this report, the bond market should respond favorably and mortgage rates should drop. However, stronger than expected sales could fuel a stock rally and push mortgage rates higher. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.4% decline in sales.
September's Producer Price Index (PPI) is the second report of the day. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy and is also considered to be of high importance to the markets. Analysts are expecting to see a decline of 0.3% in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. A larger than expected increase could fuel inflation concerns in the bond market and push mortgage rates higher. But, weaker than expected readi ngs should lead to lower rates, especially if the sales report doesn't give us stronger than expected results.
Also scheduled for release Wednesday is the Fed Beige Book during afternoon trading. This data details economic conditions throughout the U.S. by region. It is relied upon heavily by the Federal Reserve during FOMC meetings when determining monetary policy. If it reveals stronger signs of inflation from the last release, we could see mortgage rates revise higher shortly after its 2:00 PM ET release.
Thursday morning also brings us two economic releases. The first is September's Consumer Price Index (CPI) that measures inflationary pressures at the consumer level of the economy and is one of the most important reports that the bond market gets each month. Analysts are expecting to see a rise of 0.1% in the overall index and an increase of 0.2% in the core data reading. A larger than expected increase in the core reading coul d raise inflation concerns in the bond market and push mortgage rates higher Thursday. However, a smaller than expected reading should ease inflation concerns and lead to lower mortgage rates.
September's Industrial Production data is the second release of the day and will be released mid-morning. It gives us an indication of manufacturing strength by tracking orders at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is expected to show a 0.8% drop in output from August's level, meaning that manufacturing activity fell sharply. A smaller than expected decline or an increase in output would be negative for bonds and mortgage rates while a larger drop should help push mortgage rates lower, assuming that the CPI shows favorable results.
The remaining two reports are both scheduled for release Friday morning. September's Housing Starts is the first, but is the week's least important piece of data. It gives us an indication of housing sector st rength and mortgage credit demand, but usually is not a mover of mortgage rates. It is expected to show a decline in starts of new homes last month. If it varies greatly from forecasts, we could see the bond market have some reaction to the news, but probably not enough to cause much movement in rates.
The last report of the week is October's preliminary reading to the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment late Friday morning. This index measures consumer willingness to spend and usually has a moderate impact on the financial markets. If it shows a sizable decline in consumer confidence, bond prices will probably rise. It is expected to show a reading of 69.0, down from September's final of 70.3.
Overall, I am expecting to see a fair amount of movement in mortgage rates this week, but mostly the latter part of the week. The key reports are Wednesday's PPI and Retail Sales reports and Thursday's CPI data. But as we saw last week, we certainly don't need factual economic releases to see mortgage rates move. I am thinking we may still see plenty of volatility in the stock markets that may affect bond prices also. Accordingly, please proceed cautiously if you have not locked an interest rates yet.
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.
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