December 14th, 2009 10:10 AM by Lehel S.
This week is fairly busy in terms of the number of economic releases scheduled for release with five on the agenda in addition to the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year. Two of the five economic reports are considered to be of high importance, so the data should have a heavy influence on the markets and mortgage rates this week.
There is no relevant economic news due out tomorrow. This means we can expect the stock markets to drive bond trading and mortgage rates. If the major stock indexes open the week with gains tomorrow morning, bonds may move lower, pushing mortgage rates higher. But a weak open in stocks could lead to slightly lower mortgage rates tomorrow.
The first relevant report of the week is one of the two highly important ones. The Labor Department will release November's Producer Price Index (PPI) early Tuesday morning. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. Ther e are two portions of the index that are used- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. If Tuesday's release reveals stronger than expected readings, indicating that inflationary pressures are rising, the bond market will probably react negatively and drive mortgage rates higher. If we see in-line or weaker than expected numbers, the bond market should fair well and mortgage rates should fall. Current forecasts are showing a 0.8% increase in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the core data.
November's Industrial Production data is also scheduled to be posted Tuesday morning, but a little later than the PPI. This report gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. Analysts are expecting it to show a 0.5% increase in output. A smaller than expected rise would be good news for bonds, while a stronger than expected reading may result in slightly higher mortgage pricing. However, the PPI release is more important to the markets than this data is.
The week's most important economic data comes Wednesday morning when November's Consumer Price Index (CPI) is posted. It is similar to Tuesday's Producer Price Index, except it tracks inflationary pressures at the more important consumer level of the economy. Current forecasts call for an increase of 0.4% in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the core data reading. The core data is watched more closely because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices, giving a more stabile reading for analysts to consider.
November's Housing Starts report will also be released Wednesday morning, but I don't see it causing much movement in mortgage rates. This report, which is expected to show a sizable increase in starts of new homes, gives us an indication of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. However, it can be considered the least important of this week's news.
The last FOMC meeting of the year begins Tuesday and will adjourn at 2:15 PM ET Wednesday. There is not much debate about what the Fed will do at this meeting with little chance of them raising key short-term interest rates. Therefore, the post meeting statement will likely be the sole source of a market reaction. This statement has the potential to have a significant influence on the markets and mortgage rates as investors look for any indication of what and when the Fed may do next. Generally speaking, the bond market would like to hear something that indicates the Fed will not be raising rates anytime soon.
The last piece of economic news will be posted Thursday morning with the release of the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for the month of November. This 10:00 AM release attemp ts to measure or predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a sizable increase in activity, meaning that it predicts any expanding economy over the next several months. This probably will not have much of an impact on bond prices or affect mortgage rates unless it exceeds current forecasts of a 0.7% increase from October's reading. The lower the reading, the better the news for bonds. If it shows a smaller increase, the bond market may move slightly higher, improving mortgage rates slightly.
Overall, expect to see a pretty volatile week in the financial markets and mortgage pricing. The most important day of the week is certainly Wednesday with the CPI and the FOMC meeting both scheduled. However, we may see noticeable movement in rates Tuesday also. Please maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rate yet because we may see sizable changes to mortgage pricing more than one day t his week.
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.