August 19th, 2009 8:31 AM by Lehel Szucs
Wednesday's bond market has opened up sharply following the early losses in stocks and overnight losses in some international stock markets. This has made bonds more appealing to investors as they seek safe-haven from the expected volatility in stocks. The Dow is currently down 33 points while the Nasdaq has lost 5 points. The bond market is currently up 25/32, which will likely push this morning's mortgage rates lower by approximately .125 - .250 of a discount point.
There is no relevant economic data scheduled for release today. As expected, the stock markets are influencing bond trading and mortgage rates. With the sizable losses in overseas markets, particularly China, U.S. stocks are likely to have a negative day also. This has helped shift funds into bonds, at least temporarily. If the U.S. stock indexes fall further than current levels, we may see further improvements to mortgage rates later today. However, a recovery in stocks could drive bond prices lower as funds move away from bonds, causing upward revisions to mortgage rates this afternoon. I said "temporarily" above because I would not be surprised to see upward revisions to mortgage rates sometime today. I believe that the upward revision is more likely than an intra-day improvement.
Tomorrow's primary data is July's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) from the Conference Board. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months and is considered to be moderately important. A higher than expected reading is bad news for the bond market because it indicates that the economy may be strengthening more than thought. However, a weaker than expected reading means that the economy may not grow as much as predicted, making stocks less appealing to investors. This also eases inflation concerns in the bond market and could lead to slightly lower mortgage rates tomorrow morning if the stock markets remain calm. Current forecas ts are calling for an increase of 0.6% in the index, indicating economic growth over the next couple of months.
We also will get weekly unemployment figures from the Labor Department. They are expected to show that 553,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week. This would be a small decline from the previous week, but unless this data shows a wide variance between forecasts and actual reading it likely will have a minimal impact on mortgage rates tomorrow.
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.
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