December 1st, 2008 10:19 AM by Lehel Szucs
Monday's bond market has opened strong following weaker then expected economic news and a major sell-off in stocks. The stock markets are kicking the month off in the tank with the Dow down almost 400 points and the Nasdaq down 81 points. The bond market is currently up 30/32, which will likely improve this morning's mortgage rates by approximately .500 of a discount point.
The week's first piece of economic news was November's manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) late this morning. It showed a reading of 36.2 that was below forecasts and is the lowest reading since May 1982. That indicates that manufacturer sentiment was weaker than many had thought last month. Since that hints at slower manufacturing activity it is good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
The recent rally in bonds has put us in uncharted waters in terms of their yields. The benchmark 10-Year Treasury Note is currently yielding 2.82%, which is it lo west on record. It broke below 3.00% last week for the first time since the Notes were issued in 1962. While mortgage rates have not recently plummeted as quickly as the yield has, they have fallen quite a ways and show signs of continuing to slide. The downside to that is the possibility of rates spiking higher at any moment. Bond yields and mortgage rates can worsen much quicker than they usually improve. Therefore, we need to remain extremely cautious during this rally as we could see an entire week's worth of gains erased in a single morning if any of the major influences on bonds turns negative.
The next piece of data that we need to be concerned with comes Wednesday morning with the release of the revised 3rd Quarter Productivity report. This index is expected to show a downward revision from the preliminary reading of worker productivity. Higher levels of productivity are thought to allow the economy to expand without inflationary pressures rising. This is good news for the bond market because economic growth itself isn't necessarily bad for the bond market. It is the conditions around economic growth, such as inflation that hurt bond prices and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for an annual rate of 0.9%, down from the previous estimate of 1.1%.
The Fed Beige Book will be posted Wednesday afternoon. This report, which is named after the color of its cover, details economic conditions by region. It is relied on heavily during the FOMC meetings when determining monetary policy, so it results can influence bond trading and mortgage rates if it shows any significant surprises.
Overall, the most important day of the week is Friday with the employment figures being released, but today will also likely be one of the more important. Tomorrow will probably be the lightest day of the week, assuming we don't see another major sell-off or rally in stocks.
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... 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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