August 13th, 2009 9:48 AM by Lehel Szucs
Thursday's bond market has opened in positive territory following much weaker than expected consumer spending news. The stock markets are showing minor gains with the Dow up 27 points and the Nasdaq up 10 points. The bond market is currently up 15/32, which will likely improve this morning's mortgage rates by approximately .125 of a discount point. Preventing a slightly larger improvement in rates was weakness late yesterday after the FOMC meeting.
The Commerce Department announced this morning that retail level sales fell 0.1% last month. This was well off forecasts of a 0.7% increase, meaning that consumers were spending much less than expected. Even if volatile auto-related sales are excluded, sales fell much more than expected. This is very good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. If consumer spending is still falling, the broader economic recovery cannot be close. Generally speaking, a weak economy is a better environment for bonds and makes mortgage-related bonds more attractive to investors.
Also posted this morning were weekly unemployment figures from the Labor Department. They reported that 558,000 new claims for benefits were filed last week. This was an increase from the previous week, but more importantly, analysts were expecting to see a decline in new claims. However, since this data basically tracks only a week's worth of claims, it usually has little impact on mortgage rates and has not influenced trading this morning.
Early this afternoon we will get the results of today's 30-year Bond auction. This sale is not as important to mortgage rates as yesterday's 10-year sale was. But if the auction is met with an overly strong demand from investors or a particularly weak interest, we may see bond prices move enough during afternoon trading to cause revisions to mortgage rates. The results wil l be posted at 1:00 PM ET.
Tomorrow morning brings us the release of three reports. The first is July's Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM. The CPI is one of the most important reports we see each month. It measures inflation at the consumer level of the economy. There are two readings in the report- the overall index and the core data reading. The more important of the two is the core data because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. Current forecasts call for no change in the overall index and a 0.1% increase in the core data reading. Declines in the readings, especially in the core data, should lead to a bond rally and lower mortgage rates. However, stronger than expected readings will likely cause a spike in mortgage pricing tomorrow.
The remaining two pieces of data are relevant to mortgage rates but not nearly important as the CPI is. The second report of the day is Industrial Production data for July. This report gives us a measu rement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is considered to be of moderately high importance and may cause movement in mortgage rates. Analysts are currently expecting to see a 0.4% increase in production between June and July. A larger increase in output could lead to higher mortgage rates tomorrow, but only if the CPI's results are a non-factor in rates.
The last report of the day will come from the University of Michigan who will release its Index of Consumer Sentiment for August at 9:45 AM. This index gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If confidence is rising, then consumers are more apt to make large purchases. This helps fuel consumer spending and economic growth. A drop in confidence will probably help boost bond prices. If the index rises, indicating that confidence is rising and spending is likely to continue, we may see mortgage rates move higher Friday morning. However, th is is the least important of the day's three reports and will probably have the least impact on rates.
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... 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