December 15th, 2008 2:29 PM by Lehel Szucs
This week is moderately busy in terms of the number of economic releases scheduled for release with four on the agenda, but the biggest news will likely be the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year Tuesday. Only one of the four economic reports is considered to be of high importance, so the data may not be the biggest influence eon the markets and mortgage rates this week.
November's Industrial Production data is scheduled to be posted mid-morning tomorrow. It gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. Analysts are expecting this report to show a 0.5% decline in output. A larger than expected drop would be good news for bonds, while a stronger than expected reading may result in slightly higher mortgage pricing.
The week's most important economic data comes Tuesday morning when November's Consumer Price Index (CPI) is posted. It is similar to last week' s Producer Price Index, except it tracks inflationary pressures at the consumer level of the economy. Current forecasts call for an decline of 1.3% in the overall index and a 0.1% 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 Tuesday morning, but I don't see it causing much movement in mortgage rates. This report, which is expected to show a decline in starts of new homes, gives us an indication of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. But, it can be considered the least important of this week's news.
The last FOMC meeting of the year is Tuesday and will adjourn at 2:15 PM ET. There is much debate about what the Fed will do at this meeting, but the general consensus is that another rate cut is coming. Some think that the Fed will r educe key short-term interest rates by another .750 of a discount point, but most think the Fed will make a half-point move and wait until early next year before making another change. The post meeting statement also may a significant influence on the markets and mortgage rates as investors look for any indication of what and when the Fed may do next.
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 attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a sizable decline in activity, meaning that it predicts slower economic activity 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 0.5% decline from October's reading. If it shows a larger decline, the bond market may move slightl y 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 Tuesday with the CPI and the FOMC meeting both scheduled. However, we may see noticeable movement in rates more than one day this week, so, please maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rate 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.
©Mortgage Commentary 2008