February 15th, 2010 11:22 AM by Lehel S.
There are five economic reports worth watching this week that are likely to affect mortgage rates in addition to the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. The financial markets are closed tomorrow in observance of the President's Day Holiday and will reopen Tuesday morning. You may find some lenders to be open for business tomorrow, but I would not expect to see new rates issued until Tuesday.
Wednesday brings us three releases, including the week's least important of the five economic reports. January's Housing Starts will be posted early Wednesday morning, giving us an indication of housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand. It usually does not affect rates unless it varies greatly from forecasts. Current forecasts are calling for an increase in starts of new housing.
January's Industrial Production data will be released mid-morning Wednesday. It gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities and can have a moderate impact on the financial markets. Analysts are expecting to see a 0.8% increase in production from December to January. A smaller than expected rise in output would be good news and should push bond prices higher, lowering mortgage rates Wednesday.
The minutes from last FOMC meeting will be released Wednesday afternoon. Traders will be looking for any indication of the Fed's next move regarding monetary policy. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, therefore, any reaction will come during afternoon trading. This particular set of minutes could be interesting due to the wording of the last post-meeting statement. I suspect there was some debate amongst the FOMC members before releasing that statement. These minutes will likely clarify if there is a consensus amongst them or if there is disagreement about the Fed's actions or inactions. A consensus likely means a sooner change to key short-term rates. Accordingly, I am expecting some volatility in the markets after the minutes are released.
The Labor Department will post their Producer Price Index (PPI) for January early Thursday morning. It measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the report that analysts watch- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is more important to market participants because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. It is expected to show an increase of 0.8% in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data. Good news for bonds would be a decline in both readings, particularly the core data.
Also Thursday morning will be the release of the Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January. This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a 0.5% increase, meaning that economic activity may rise in the near f uture. A smaller than expected rise would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.
The Labor Department will release January's Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM ET Friday, which measures inflationary pressures at the very important consumer level of the economy. With exception to maybe the Employment report, the CPI is the most important report that we see each month. Its results can have a huge impact on the financial markets, especially on long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds. It is expected to show a 0.3% increase in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the more important core data. If we see weaker than expected readings, bond prices should rise and mortgage rates would likely fall.
Overall, the most important day of the week will likely be Friday with the CPI being released, but Wednesday and Thursday may also be active days for mortgage rates. In other words, be prepared for an active week in the markets and mortgage 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... Lock if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Lock 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.