October 27th, 2008 9:09 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week is packed with economic releases and major events that will likely lead to a fair amount of volatility in the markets and mortgage pricing. There are seven reports scheduled for release along with another FOMC meeting. The first of the week's news comes late tomorrow morning with the release of September's New Home Sales. This data covers the remaining 15% of home sales that last week's Existing Home Sales report tracked and is this week's least important data. It is expected to show a decline in sales, but regardless of its results I am not expecting it to have a significant impact on mortgage rates tomorrow.
The first important data will be posted Tuesday morning with the release of the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for the month of October. This Conference Board index will be posted at 10:00 AM and gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. It is expected to show a sizable decline in confidence from last month's 59.8 reading, ind icating that consumers are less likely to make large purchases in the near future. As long as the reading doesn't exceed the forecasted 52.0, we will likely see the bond market react favorably to this report. This data is watched closely because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
The week's FOMC meeting is a two-day meeting that begins Tuesday and adjourns Wednesday afternoon. Assuming the Fed stands pat and leaves rates unchanged, traders will be looking at the post-meeting statement for any indication of the Fed's next move. Since there is a fair amount of uncertainty and a lack of a strong consensus of what the Fed will do here, the move itself, if it happens, will likely cause plenty of volatility in addition to the post-meeting statement. The meeting will adjourn at 2:00 PM Wednesday, so look for quite a bit of volatility during afternoon hours.
Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department will post Durable Goods Orders for September. This report gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket items. Analysts are currently calling for a drop in new orders of approximately 1.0%. If we see a smaller than expected decline in orders, mortgage rates will probably rise as bond prices fall. A weaker than expected reading should be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this data can be quite volatile from month to month and is difficult to forecast.
The next relevant data is the preliminary reading of the 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) early Thursday morning. The GDP is considered to be the benchmark measurement of economic growth because it is the sum of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and therefore is likely to have a major impact on the financial markets and mortgage pricing. There are three versions of this report, each a month apart. Thursday's release is the first and usually h as the biggest impact on the markets. Current forecasts call for a decline of approximately 0.5% in the GDP. If this report does show a decline, I am expecting to see the bond market rally and mortgage rates to fall.
There are three reports scheduled for release Friday. The first is the 3rd Quarter Employment Cost Index (ECI), which tracks employer costs for salaries and benefits. Rapidly rising costs raises wage inflation concerns and may hurt bond prices. It is expected to show an increase in costs of 0.7%. A smaller than expected increase would be good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
September's Personal Income and Outlays report will also be posted early Friday. This data gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. It is important to the markets because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Rising income generally indicates that consumers have more money to spend, making econ omic growth more of a possibility. This is bad news for the bond market and mortgage rates because it raises inflation concerns, making long-term securities such as mortgage related bonds less attractive to investors. Analysts are expecting to see an increase of 0.1% in income and decline in outlays of 0.2%.
The week's last report comes at 10:00 AM ET Friday when the University of Michigan updates their Index of Consumer Sentiment for this month. Current forecasts show this index remaining nearly unchanged from this month's preliminary reading of 57.5. This index is important because it helps us measure consumer confidence, which is believed to indicate consumers' willingness to spend. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is considered to be important.
Overall, it is difficult to peg a single day of the week as being the most important. The data being posted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is a ll very important to the markets. The FOMC meeting is the single most important event of the week, but we may see noticeable movement in mortgage rates several days this week. Accordingly, please maintain contact with your mortgage professional.
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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