March 2nd, 2009 9:55 AM by Lehel Szucs
This week brings us the release of six economic reports to be concerned with. Two of the reports are considered to be very important, but nearly all of the week's releases have the potential to affect mortgage rates. With reports being posted each day except Tuesday, we will likely see a fairly active week in mortgage rates.
The week's first data comes tomorrow morning with the release of two relevant reports. The first is January's Personal Income ad Outlays data at 8:30 AM ET, which gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. Current forecasts call for a decline in income of 0.2% while spending is expected to rise 0.42%. A larger than expected increase in spending would be bad news for the bond market and could drive mortgage rates higher. Weaker than forecasted numbers should help push mortgage rates slightly lower tomorrow.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) will release their manuf acturing index for February late tomorrow morning. This index measures manufacturer sentiment and can have a pretty large impact on the financial and mortgage markets if it varies from forecasts. It is expected to show a decline from January's 35.6 to 34.0 last month. This is important because a reading below 50.0 is a recession indicator, meaning that more surveyed manufacturers felt business worsened during the month than those who felt it had improved. If we see a weaker than expected reading, the bond market could rally. However, a higher than forecasted reading could lead to major selling in bonds, causing mortgage rates to rise.
The Fed Beige Book is the next report scheduled for release and it will be posted Wednesday afternoon. This report details economic activity throughout the country by region. The Fed relies heavily on this data during their FOMC meetings, so look for a potential reaction during afternoon trading Wednesday. It probably will not cause a major sell off in the stock or bond markets, but could cause enough movement in bond prices to possibly improve or worsen mortgage rates slightly if it reveals any significant surprises.
There two reports scheduled for release Thursday morning. The first is the revised Productivity index for the 4th Quarter of last year. The preliminary reading posted last month showed an annual rate of 3.2% increase in worker output. Analysts are expecting to see a sizable downward revision to the initial reading. It is expected to be cut to a 1.6% increase in output, meaning workers were not as productive as previously thought during the quarter. Employee productivity is watched fairy closely because a higher level of output per hour is believed to mean that the economy can expand without inflation concerns.
January's Factory Orders will be posted late Thursday morning, which will give us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength. This data is similar to last week's Durable Goods, except this report covers orders for both durable and non-durable goods. Current forecasts are calling for a drop in new orders of approximately 2.1%. A larger than expected drop would be good news for the bond market and could lead to an improvement in mortgage rates.
The biggest news of the week comes Friday morning when one of the single most important monthly reports we see will be posted. The Labor Department will release February's Employment report at 8:30 AM ET Friday. Some of the important portions of the report will give us the unemployment rate, number of new jobs added or lost and the average hourly earnings reading. The best combination for the bond market and mortgage rates would be an increase in the unemployment rate, a large drop in payrolls and little or no increase in earnings. Current forecasts are calling for 0.3% increase in the unemployment rate to 7.9% and approximately 615,000 jobs lost during the month.
Overall, look for a fairly active week for mortgage rates. I suspect there will be some optimism leading up to Friday's Employment report, which is of concern to me. I believe the market is expecting to see very weak numbers Friday morning and has already built that into current pricing. The problem is that if it meets forecasts, or is even slightly stronger than expected, we could see bonds drop and mortgage rates rise. Because of this, I may be extending the lock recommendation to longer periods before Friday's data. Friday is undoubtedly the biggest day of the week, but tomorrow may also bring noticeable movement in mortgage rates. Please be careful this week 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 m y 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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