February 19th, 2009 12:32 PM by Lehel Szucs
Thursday's bond market has opened well into negative territory following the release of much stronger than expected economic data. The stock markets are relatively flat with the Dow and Nasdaq both down 2 points. The bond market is currently down 19/32, which will likely push this morning's mortgage rates higher by approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point.
Both of today's monthly reports gave us stronger than expected results. The first and more important of the two was January's Producer Price Index (PPI) from the Labor Department. They announced a 0.8% jump in the overall reading and a 0.4% rise in the core data when they were expected to show 0.3% and 0.1% increases respectively. This means that prices paid at the producer level of the economy rose much more than expected. That is considered bad news for bonds and mortgage rates because it raises inflation concerns that make bonds less appealing to investors.
The second piece of data p osted this morning was January's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months and showed an increase of 0.4% compared to the 0.1% increase that latest forecasts were calling for. This means that the data is predicting economic activity to increase over the next few months at a faster pace than analysts had thought. This is negative news for bonds and mortgage rates.
The Labor Department also posted weekly unemployment figures, showing that 627,000 new claims for benefits were filed last week. This matched the previous week's revised total but was higher than expected. The higher total of claims is good news for bonds, but since it tracks only a week's worth of claims it is not considered to be of high importance to the markets, especially with the inflation related readings being posted this morning.
The Labor Department will also release January's Consumer Pr ice Index (CPI) early tomorrow morning, which measures inflationary pressures at the very important consumer level of the economy. With exception to maybe the Employment report, the CPI is the most important report that we see each month. Its results can have a huge impact on the financial markets, especially long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds. It is expected to show a 0.3% increase in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the more important core data. If we see weaker than expected readings, bond prices should rise and mortgage rates would likely fall.
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 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 c annot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.
©Mortgage Commentary 2009