March 16th, 2009 9:00 AM by Lehel Szucs
Monday's bond market has opened flat with the stock markets mixed during early trading. The Dow is currently up 48 points while the Nasdaq has lost 9 points. The bond market is currently nearly unchanged from Friday's close, but we will still likely see an increase in this morning's mortgage rates of approximately .250 of a discount point due to weakness Friday.
Today's only relevant economic news was February's Industrial Production report. It showed a drop in output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities of 1.4% last month. This was a little weaker than expected but indicates that manufacturing activity was slightly softer than thought. That is good news for bonds and mortgage rates, but not enough to spur a bond rally.
The Labor Department will post February's Producer Price Index (PPI) early tomorrow morning. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the index- the overall rea ding and the core data. The core data is more important and watched more closely because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. If the index shows a large increase, inflation concerns may rise, making long-term investments such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors. This would lead to higher mortgage rates tomorrow morning. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.4% rise in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data.
Also tomorrow is the release of 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.
Overall, look for Wednesday to be the most important day of the week due to the CPI release. Tomorrow may also be an active day for rates with t he PPI on tap. But the wildcard is whether stocks continue last week's gains or if they move lower again. Stock strength would likely draw funds from bonds and lead to higher mortgage rates. However, if the major indexes fall again, funds may shift into bonds, leading to lower mortgage rates.
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.
©Mortgage Commentary 2009