November 22nd, 2008 11:18 AM by Lehel Szucs
Thursday's bond market has opened up sharply as it continues yesterday's late rally that came as a result of the Fed FOMC minutes that were released during afternoon trading. The stock markets are mixed with the Dow down 41 points and the Nasdaq up 3 points. The bond market is currently up 33/32, but since mortgage bonds have not rallied nearly as much as Treasury Bonds, the improvement in this morning's mortgage rates is limited to approximately .250 of a discount point.
Yesterday's release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting did bring us some surprises and led to the selling in stocks and shifting of funds into bonds. The minutes revealed that several Fed members are concerned about deflation (instead of inflation) where prices actually deflate rather than rise. That creates a very favorable environment for bonds and other long-term securities because their future fixed interest payments are worth more down the road. The minutes also showed the Fe d significantly lowered its outlook on economic growth and employment activity, raising more concern that the economy has more room to shrink before stabilizing. This also makes bonds more attractive to investors because slowing economic activity usually means weaker corporate profits that drive stock prices lower.
The Labor Department gave us last week's unemployment figures this morning, saying that new claims for benefits rose from 515,000 to 542,000 when they were expected to drop to 503,000. While this is only a week's worth of claims, it does however further support the theory that the employment sector is still weakening quickly. Another favorable note for bonds.
October's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) was posted by the Conference Board late this morning, showing a decline of 0.8%.and lowering September's reading by 0.2%. Analysts were expecting to see a 0.6% drop, meaning that they are expecting economic activity to slow over the next th ree to six months at a quicker pace than many had thought.
There is no relevant economic data scheduled for release tomorrow, but I would not be surprised to see more volatility in the markets. Mortgage rates have not improved nearly as much as Treasury bonds have, but I am expecting to see the improvements in rates slowly continue. Accordingly, I am holding the float recommendations for the time being.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Float 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 2008