March 15th, 2010 11:18 AM by Lehel S.
This week brings us the release of five relevant economic reports along with an FOMC meeting for the markets to digest. The first piece of data will come mid-morning tomorrow when February's Industrial Production report is posted. This report measures manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is expected to show no change in output from January's level. A decline would be considered favorable news for bonds and mortgage rates.
Tuesday's only factual economic news is February's Housing Starts, but it will likely not have much of an impact on mortgage rates. It gives us a measurement of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand, but is usually considered to be of low importance to the financial markets. It is expected to show a decline in new starts from January to February.
The big news Tuesday will be the FOMC meeting that will adjourn at 2:00 PM ET. It is widely believed that the Fe d will make no change to key short-term interest rates at this meeting, but the post-meeting statement will be watched closely for any indication of when they will make a move. Generally speaking, the bond market wants to hear that inflation is not an immediate concern and that key rates will be kept at current levels for the near future. If the statement reassures traders that the Fed will not be raising rates anytime soon, we can expected the bond market to thrive and mortgage rates to move lower. However, if any hint of a move sooner than later could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage rates.
The Labor Department will post February's Producer Price Index (PPI) early Wednesday morning. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the index- the overall reading and the core data. The core data is more important and watched more closely because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. I f the index shows a large increase, inflation concerns will rise, making long-term investments such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors. This would lead to higher mortgage rates Wednesday morning. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.2% decline in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data.
February's Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be released early Thursday, which measures inflationary pressures at the very important consumer level of the economy. Its results can definitely have a huge impact on the financial markets, especially long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds. It is expected to show a 0.1% 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 Thursday.
The Conference Board will post its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for February late Thursday morni ng. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.1% increase, indicating that economic activity will likely expand slightly in the coming weeks. A decline would be considered good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.
Overall, look for Thursday to be the most important day of the week due to the CPI release, but Tuesday's FOMC meeting can also heavily influence the markets. Wednesday may also be an active day for rates with the PPI on tap. Friday will probably be the calmest day for mortgage rates, but it appears there is a good possibility of seeing plenty of movement in rates the next several days. Therefore, please proceed cautiously 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... Lock if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Lock 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.