February 23rd, 2009 8:11 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week brings us the release of six pieces of economic data for the bond market to digest along with some very important testimony from Fed Chairman Bernanke. Two of the reports are 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. 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 a decline in confidence from 37.7 in January to 36.0 this month. A lower reading would be considered good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
Mr. Bernanke will deliver the Fed's semi-annual testimony on the status of the economy late Tuesday morning. He will be speaking to the Senate Banking Committee and market participants will watch his words very closely. The Fed Chairman is required to deliver this testimony twice a year, which is considered to be of extreme importance to the financial markets. We almost always see the markets move as a result of what he says during this testimony. Look for him to address the banking and housing crises specifically and their impact on the overall economy. His testimony begins at 10:00 AM ET with a prepared statement then is followed by Q & A with committee members. I am expecting to see the markets fluctuate during this session, possibly affecting mortgage rates also.
January's Existing Home Sales report will be posted late Wednesday morning. This is one of the least important reports of the week, along with Thursday's New Home Sales report. They measure housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand, but usually do not have a significant impact on bond trading or mortgage rates. The Existing Home Sales report is expected to show an increase in sales but new home sales are expected to fall slightly.
The only important data scheduled for release Thursday is January's Durable Goods Orders data. This data 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 larger drop than the 2.3% 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.
The first of two revisions to the 4th Quarter GDP reading is scheduled for release Friday morning. Analysts' forecasts currently call for a decline of 5.4%, indicating that the economy was weaker in the last quarter of the ye ar 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.
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 revising slightly higher than previously thought. The preliminary reading was 56.2 and is now expected to stand at 56.5, indicating that consumer sentiment was slightly stronger than previously thought. This index is important because it helps us measure consumer confidence that translates into consumer willingness to spend.
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 good week to maintain contact with your mortgage professional.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Float 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.
©Mortgage Commentary 2009