February 18th, 2009 9:58 AM by Lehel Szucs
Wednesday's bond market has opened in negative territory despite the release of weaker than expected economic data. The stock markets are showing small gains with the Dow up 21 points and the Nasdaq up 9 points. The bond market is currently down 6/32, which will likely push this morning's mortgage rates higher by approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point.
Both of today's factual economic reports gave us weaker than expected results. The first was January's Housing Starts that tracks starts of new home construction. It revealed a decline of almost 17% in starts, bringing the total down to a record low. This gives us another indication that the housing market has not bottomed-out and that we could see further weakness in near future. This is considered good news for bonds because weak housing helps support a theory of a weakening economy.
January's Industrial Production data was also posted this morning, showing a 1.8% drop in manufacturing output. This was a larger decline than the 1.4% that was expected and along with a downward revision to December's output, indicates that the manufacturing sector is still slowing. This is another favorable indicator for bonds and mortgage rates.
The minutes from the last FOMC meeting will be released later today. Traders will be looking for any indication of the Fed's next move regarding monetary policy. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, therefore, any reaction will come during afternoon trading. However, with little likelihood of the Fed making a change to key short-term rates anytime soon, these minutes will likely not heavily influence trading or lead to a change in mortgage rates during afternoon trading.
The Labor Department will post their Producer Price Index (PPI) for January early tomorrow morning. It measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the report that analysts watch- the overal l reading and the core data reading. The core data is more important to market participants because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. It is expected to show an increase of 0.2% in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data. Good news for bonds would be a decline in both readings, particularly the core data.
Also tomorrow morning will be the release of the Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January. This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show no change, meaning that economic activity may be flat in the near future. A decline would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Float 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 t aking 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 2009