December 22nd, 2008 11:19 AM by Lehel Szucs
This significantly shortened trading week brings us the release of six monthly or quarterly economic reports and a fairly important Treasury auction. Most of the data being released is not considered to be of high importance to the markets, but with the Christmas holiday falling during the week we can expect very thin trading. This means that we may see a larger reaction than normal to some news because there will be fewer traders working and less transactions being made. We also may see profit-taking by some firms to capture the sizable gains in bonds this year as it winds down, so by no means can we be guaranteed a quiet week.
There is no relevant economic news scheduled for release tomorrow. Five of the week's events are scheduled for Tuesday. The first is the final revision to the 3rd Quarter GDP. I don't think this data will have an impact on mortgage rates unless it varies greatly from its expected reading. Last month's first revision showed that the economy contracted at a 0.5% annual pace during the quarter and this month's revision is expected to show the same.
The next two are November's Existing and New Home Sales reports. The Existing Home Sales release will come from the National Association of Realtors while the New Home Sales data is a Commerce Department report. Both give us a measurement of housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand, however, neither are considered to be of high importance. Both of the reports are expected to show a drop in sales.
The fourth report of the day also comes late morning when the revised University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for December is posted. Current forecasts are calling for a small downward revision from the preliminary reading of 59.1. This is important because rising consumer confidence indicates that consumers may be more apt to make large purchases in the near future. An unexpected upward revision could lead to higher mortga ge rates Tuesday.
The last event on Tuesday that is worth noting is the 5-year Treasury Note auction. If the sale is met with a decent demand from investors, we could see interest in other notes and bonds such as mortgage-related bonds increase during afternoon trading. But, a lackluster interest from investors may also lead to weakness in bonds and possible upward afternoon revisions to mortgage pricing.
The remaining two reports are scheduled for release Wednesday at 8:30 AM. This is when November's Personal Income and Outlays data and Durable Goods Orders will be posted. The Income and Outlays report will give us an important measurement of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data usually has a fairly significant impact on the financial markets and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for no change in income and a 0.8% decli ne in spending. If this report reveals weaker than expected readings, we should see the bond market improve and mortgage rates drop slightly Wednesday
The last piece of data will be the Commerce Department's Durable Goods Orders for November. This data gives us an important measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders for big-ticket items or products that are expected to last at least three years. Analysts are expecting the report to show a decline in the neighborhood of 3.1%. A larger decline would indicate that the manufacturing sector was weaker than many had thought. This would be good news for the bond market and should drive mortgage rates lower. However, a smaller than expected drop in orders could lead to mortgage rates moving higher early Wednesday morning.
Overall, I am expecting to see some movement in the markets and mortgage rates, but nothing drastic unless we get some surprising results from the week 's data. The bond market will close early Wednesday and Friday and be closed all day Thursday. This means that firms that trade bonds will likely be keeping only a skeleton staff most of the week. Still, my biggest fear between now and the end of the year will be selling bonds to capture profits from the significant rally of the past several weeks. That could lead to bonds falling and mortgage rates rising.
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.
©Mortgage Commentary 2008