December 28th, 2008 7:41 PM by Lehel Szucs
This week brings us the release of only two pieces of economic news that are relevant to mortgage rates. It is another holiday-shortened week with the New Years Day holiday Thursday, so the data may have a heavier impact on trading than usual if it varies from forecasts by much. The bond market will close early Tuesday and possibly Friday as they did last week. With that type of schedule, many traders will not be working Wednesday or Friday, so any unexpected news or data may lead to a larger than usual reaction in the markets.
There is no relevant news scheduled for tomorrow. Look for any significant changes in stocks to drive bond trading and mortgage rates. If the major stock indexes remain fairly calm, it is possible that bond prices and mortgage rates may follow suit. However, I still believe there is a possibility of seeing year-end weakness in bonds that may drive mortgage rates higher. Accordingly, I am still recommending to proceed with caution of still floating an interest rate.
The first important release comes late Tuesday morning when the Conference Board will post its Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for December. This is a pretty important release because it measures consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are more confident in their personal financial situations, they are more apt to make large purchases. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is watched closely by market participants and can have a significant influence on mortgage rate direction. Current forecasts are calling for a minor increase confidence from November's reading of 44.9. Analysts are expecting Tuesday's release to show a reading of 45.2.
The financial markets will be closed Thursday in observance of the New Year's Day holiday. They will reopen Friday morning with the release of the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index. This highly important index measures manufacturer sentiment. A reading below 50 means that more surveyed manufacturing executives felt that business worsened during the month than those who felt it had improved. Analysts are currently expecting to see a 35.4 reading in this month's release, meaning that sentiment fell from November's 36.2. A smaller reading will be good news for the bond market and mortgage shoppers while a higher than expected reading could lead to higher mortgage rates Friday morning.
Overall, I am still pessimistic towards mortgage rates, at least short-term. The week's two reports are both considered important and can influence mortgage rates. If they report weaker than expected results, we could see rates close the week lower than last Friday's closing levels. But, even if we get results that match forecasts, I suspect we will see selling in bonds and traders make year-end adjustments to their portfolios that could push mortgage rates higher for the 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... 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