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Mortgage Rates (2/20/2011 - the week ahead)

February 23rd, 2011 2:55 PM by Lehel S.

This week brings us the release of six pieces of economic data for the bond market to digest along with two potentially influential Treasury auctions. The financial markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of the President’s Day holiday, so don’t expect to see new mortgage pricing until Tuesday morning. One of the six reports is considered to be of low importance, but since we have data being posted every day of the week except for tomorrow, it is likely that we will see plenty of movement in mortgage rates the next few days.

Tuesday morning brings us the first of this week's data with the release of February's Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) during late morning trading. This Conference Board index measures consumer confidence in their personal financial situations, giving us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are feeling good about their own financial situations, they are more apt to make large purchases in the near future. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the economy, related data is considered important in terms of gauging economic activity. It is expected to show an increase in confidence from 60.6 in January to 65.0 this month. A lower reading would be considered good news for bonds and mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors will post January’s Existing Home Sales report late Wednesday morning. It tracks home resales throughout the country, giving us a measurement of housing sector strength. It is expected to show a small decline in sales of existing homes, meaning the housing sector remained fairly flat during the month. Ideally, the bond market would like to see a sizable decline in sales because weak housing is one of the hurdles that the economy must overcome to recover from the recession. The longer it takes for the housing market to recover, the longer it will take the economy to do the same.

Thursday has tw o reports scheduled to be posted. The first is January's Durable Goods Orders data that gives us an important measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders at U.S. factories for items expected to last three or more years. A smaller increase than the 3.0% that is expected would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. This data is quite volatile from month-to-month, so large swings are fairly normal. 





January's New Home Sales report will be posted late Thursday morning. This is one of the least important reports of the week, and is the sister report to Wednesday's Existing Home Sales release. They measure housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand, but usually do not have a significant impact on bond trading or mortgage rates unless they show significant surprises. This report is also expected to show a decline in sales.

The first of two revisions to the 4th Quarter GDP reading is scheduled for release Friday morning. Analysts' forecasts currently call for an annual rate of growth of 3.3%, indicating that the economy was slightly stronger in the last quarter of the year than initially thought. It will be interesting to see where this figure falls and what its impact on the markets will be. Generally speaking, higher levels of activity are bad news for the bond market, while a sizable downward revision would be good news and could lead to improvements in mortgage pricing.





The last piece of data scheduled for release this week is the University of Michigan's revision to their Index of Consumer Sentiment for February. Current forecasts show this index not changing much from its preliminary estimate of 75.1. This index is fairly important because it helps us measure consumer confidence that translates into consumer willingness to spend. 

In addition to this week's economic reports, there are two relatively important Treasury au ctions that may also influence bond trading enough to affect mortgage rates. There will be an auction of 5-year Notes Wednesday and 7-year Notes on Thursday. Neither of these sales will directly impact mortgage pricing, but they can influence general bond market sentiment. If the sales go poorly, we could see broader selling in the bond market that leads to upward revisions to mortgage rates. However, strong sales usually make bonds more attractive to investors and bring more funds into bonds. The buying of bonds that follows usually translates into lower mortgage rates.





Overall, look for plenty of movement in bond prices and mortgage rates this week. I think we will see the most movement either Tuesday or Thursday, but Friday may be fairly active also. This would be a very good week to maintain contact with your mortgage professional, especially if still floating an interest rate.

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 cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers. 
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Posted by Lehel S. on February 23rd, 2011 2:55 PM

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