March 17th, 2009 1:03 PM by Lehel Szucs
Tuesday's bond market has opened up slightly despite stronger than expected economic news. The stock markets have fluctuated between positive and negative territory during early morning as they look for direction. They are currently showing small gains with the Dow up 20 points and the Nasdaq up 17 points. The bond market is currently up 5/32, which will likely improve this morning's mortgage rates by approximately .125 of a discount point.
Today's big news came from the Labor Department who reported that February's Producer Price Index (PPI) rose only 0.1% compared to a forecast of 0.4%. That was the good news because it means that inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy were lower than thought. The bad news came from the core reading that excludes more volatile food and energy prices. It was expected to rise only 0.1% last month but actually rose 0.2%. This means that core prices were higher than analysts thought, but fortunately n ot enough to create a sell atmosphere in the bond market.
February's Housing Starts were also released this morning, revealing an unexpected spike in construction starts of new homes. Today's report showed a 22% jump in starts of new homes when analysts were expecting to see a decline for the ninth consecutive month. This surprise is good news for the housing market, which can be translated as bad news for bonds, but since it is considered one of the less important reports we see each month, its impact on today's trading and mortgage rates has been minimal.
Tomorrow morning brings us the release of February's Consumer Price Index (CPI), 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 0.3% increase in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the more impor tant core data. If we see weaker than expected readings, bond prices should rise and mortgage rates would likely fall tomorrow.
The FOMC meeting that began today and will adjourn at 2:00 PM ET tomorrow. With key short-term interest rates practically at 0% already, there is not much the Fed can do with monetary policy at this meeting. They have previously stated that they expect rates to remain near zero for some time. Therefore, the anxiety of the post-meeting statement should be minimal and the likelihood of a major market reaction to the statement is reduced significantly. If the statement references a time frame of an economic recovery, we may see the markets react if it reveals any surprises. Other than that, I am not expecting too much movement in mortgage rates tomorrow afternoon.
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 2 0 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