September 15th, 2008 9:36 AM by Lehel Szucs
There are only four pieces of economic news scheduled for release this week and one of them is a highly important inflation reading. We also have another Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which likely will not bring a change to key short-term interest rates. There is a pretty good possibility of seeing a fair amount of volatility in the markets and likely mortgage rates the next several days.
The first report of the week is August's Industrial Production data tomorrow morning. This report gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is considered to be moderately important but could cause movement in mortgage rates. Analysts are currently expecting to see a 0.3% decline in production. A higher level of output could lead to higher mortgage rates, while a weaker than expected figure should help push rates slightly lower.
August's Consumer Price Ind ex (CPI) will be released Tuesday morning at 8:30 am ET. The CPI is one of the most important reports we see each and every month. It is considered to be a key indicator of inflation at the consumer level of the economy. There are two readings in the report- the overall index and the core data reading. Current forecasts are calling for no change in the overall reading and a 0.2% rise in the core data reading. A larger increase in the core data would likely lead to higher mortgage rates Tuesday, while a smaller increase would be good news.
The FOMC meeting will adjourn at 2:15 PM Tuesday. There is little debate about a possible change to key short-term interest rates at this meeting. The overwhelming consensus is that there will be no change to rates at this meeting. However, the post-meeting statement could very well lead to volatility during afternoon trading as investors dissect it in an effort to find the Fed's expected next move. The wild card is how the ma rkets react to the statement. If we see significant weakness in stocks, the bond market may benefit as a safe-haven from the volatility. This could lead to lower mortgage rates Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
August's Housing Starts report will be released early Wednesday morning. This report will probably not have much of an impact on the bond market or mortgage rates. It gives us a measurement of housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand, but is usually considered to be of low importance to the financial markets.
Late Thursday morning, the Conference Board will release its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months. If it estimates an increase in activity, the bond market will probably fall and mortgage rates will rise slightly. If it shows weaker than expected readings, the bond market may rally and mortgage rates should fall. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.2% decline from July's reading.
Overall, I expect to see some pressure in bonds tomorrow as investors prepare for Tuesday's events. Tuesday will most likely be the most important day of the week with the CPI release and the FOMC meeting. If the CPI eases inflation concerns and the Fed statement doesn't reveal any negative surprises, we will most likely see mortgage rates move lower for the week.
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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