September 30th, 2013
This week brings us the release of only three monthly economic reports that are likely to influence mortgage rates. However, two of those three releases are extremely important to the financial and mortgage markets and can cause significant movement in mortgage rates if they show surprises. We also have the pending government shutdown early this week that will influence trading and could affect two of those scheduled economic releases.
There is nothing of importance scheduled for release Monday in terms of economic data. However, it will still be an interesting day because it appears that a deal in Washington D.C. to avoid a government shutdown is not going to happen. This means that many government operations will come to a halt at midnight ET Monday evening. While that is a problem outside the mortgage world, it also should be noted that there are some specific problems to mortgage shoppers. As of Tuesday, most government mortgage loans (FHA/USDA) would come to a standstill but VA loans should not be affected unless the shutdown turns into an extended period. All conventional loans should proceed without issue. And it is my understanding that the National Flood Insurance Program will not be affected by a temporary shutdown either.
Still, the impact on the financial and mortgage markets could be significant. It is widely believed that a shutdown cannot be avoided at this point, so we can expect to see the markets open Monday reflecting that result. Also complicating matters is the fact that a shutdown means we will not get the economic reports that are compiled and posted by government agencies this week, one of which is extremely important to the markets. That would be Friday’s monthly employment report from the Labor Department.
Tuesday has the first report of the week when the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) posts their manufacturing index for September at 10:00 AM ET. The ISM is not a governmental agency, so the shutdown will not impact this release. The index measures manufacturer sentiment and it can be highly influential on the markets and mortgage rates. Analysts are expecting to see a small decline from August’s 55.7 reading, meaning surveyed manufacturers felt business conditions worsened from the previous month. The 50.0 benchmark is extremely important since a reading below that level means more surveyed executives felt business worsened in the month than those who said it had improved. This data is important not only because it measures manufacturer sentiment, but it is also very recent data. Some economic releases track data that is 30-60 days old, but the ISM index is only a few weeks old. Actually, it is the first report that we see each month. If it reveals a reading below 55.1, meaning sentiment fell short of expectations, we should by theory see the bond market move higher and mortgage rates fall Tuesday.
Wednesday’s monthly economic data will come from the Commerce Department, who are set to post August’s Factory Orders data at 10:00 AM ET. This manufacturing sector report is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders release, but also includes orders for non-durable goods. It can impact the bond market enough to slightly change mortgage rates if it varies from forecasts by a wide margin. Analysts are forecasting a 0.3% increase in new orders, meaning manufacturing activity grew slightly in August. Good news for the bond market and mortgage pricing would be a sizable decline in orders.
The Labor Department is scheduled to post September’s Employment report early Friday morning. This report will reveal the U.S. unemployment rate, number of new payrolls added or lost during the month and average hourly earnings. These are considered to be very important readings of the employment sector and can have a huge impact on the financial markets. The ideal scenario for the bond market is rising unemployment, falling payrolls and a drop in earnings.
If we do see this report and it gives us weaker than expected readings, bond prices should move higher and mortgage rates should move lower Friday. However, stronger than forecasted readings could cause a sizable spike in mortgage pricing and erase the improvement in rates since the Fed opted to delay tapering their bond purchases. Analysts are expecting to see the unemployment rate remain at 7.3%, an increase of 183,000 new jobs from August’s level and a 0.2% increase in earnings.
Overall, I am expecting to see a good amount of volatility in the markets and mortgage rates this week. Based on an economic calendar, Tuesday and Friday are the key days but the impasse in Washington puts into question whether we will even see some of that data let alone if it will be the biggest influence on this week’s trading. Monday is likely to be an extremely active day barring a last minute trick during early trading to avoid the shutdown Monday night. Tuesday will also be a key day with the ISM index, regardless of the outcome in Washington. The rest of the week’s data is in limbo, so it is difficult to make a prediction beyond that point. Accordingly, it would be prudent to maintain fairly constant contact with your mortgage professional this week if still floating an interest rate as we may see significant moves multiple days.