September 23rd, 2013
This week brings us the release of six relevant economic reports for the bond market to digest in addition to two potentially influential Treasury auctions. Most of the reports are considered to be of moderate to fairly high importance to the markets, so they do have the potential to affect mortgage rates although I am expecting to see less volatility in the financial and mortgage markets than we saw last week.
The first release of the week is September’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) late Tuesday morning. This Conference Board index will be posted at 10:00 AM ET and gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. It is expected to show a decline in confidence from last month’s reading, indicating that consumers were less optimistic about their own financial situations than last month, therefore, less likely to make a large purchase in the near future. This is good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because consumer spending fuels economic growth. Analysts are calling for a reading of approximately 80.0, down from August’s 81.5 reading. The smaller the reading, the better the news it is for the bond market and mortgage rates.
August’s Durable Goods Orders is the week’s most important data and will be posted early Wednesday morning. This report gives us an indication of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders for big-ticket items at U.S. factories. Big-ticket products are items that are expected to last three or more years such as electronics and appliances. Analysts are expecting to see a small increase of 0.4% in new orders, indicating minor growth in the manufacturing sector. A sizable decline could help boost bond prices and cause mortgage rates to drop Wednesday because signs of economic weakness make longer-term securities more appealing to investors. However, a sizable increase would indicate a stronger than expected manufacturing sector and would likely help push mortgage rates higher. It is worth noting that this data is known to be quite volatile from month-to-month, so a slight or moderate change may not affect mortgage pricing.
August’s New Home Sales will be released late Wednesday morning. The Commerce Department is expected to say that sales of newly constructed homes rose last month, indicating housing sector strength. This report will likely not have a noticeable impact on mortgage rates unless its readings differ greatly from forecasts. This is the week’s least important report in terms of potential impact on mortgage rates, partly because it covers only the small portion of all homes sales that last week’s Existing Home Sales report did not.
The Treasury will sell 5-year Notes Wednesday and 7-year Notes Thursday, which will tell us if there is an appetite for medium-term securities. If investor demand in these sales is strong, particularly from international buyers, the broader bond market should move higher, pushing mortgage rates lower. But a lackluster interest from investors could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage pricing. The results of the sales will be announced at 1:00 PM ET each day, so any reaction to the results will come during afternoon trading Wednesday and Thursday.
Thursday morning has the final revision to the 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since this data is aged now and the preliminary reading of the 3rd Quarter GDP will be released next month, I don’t see this revision having much of an impact on the financial markets or mortgage pricing. The GDP is important because it is the total sum of all goods and services produced within the U.S. and is considered the best measurement of economic activity. It is expected to show no change from the previous estimate of a 2.5% increase in the GDP. It will take a fairly large revision for this data to move mortgage rates Thursday.
Friday has two reports scheduled that may influence mortgage rates. The first is August’s Personal Income and Outlays early Friday morning. It gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. This is relevant to the markets because consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Rising income generally indicates that consumers have more money to spend, making economic growth more of a possibility. This is negative news for the bond market and mortgage rates because it raises inflation and economic growth concerns, making long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors. It is expected to show an increase of 0.4% in income and a 0.2% increase in spending. If we see weaker than expected readings, the bond market should react positively, leading to lower rates Friday.
The second report of the day is the University of Michigan’s revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for September. The preliminary reading that was released earlier this month showed a 76.8 reading. Analysts are expecting to see a small upward revision, meaning consumer confidence was slightly stronger than previously thought. As with Tuesday’s CCI release, a lower than expected reading would be good news for bonds and should help improve mortgage rates.
Overall, I don’t see an obvious choice for most important day of the week but Wednesday does have two economic reports scheduled including the most important of the six. So, let’s label it as likely to be most active although Friday does have two reports scheduled also. The least important day will probably be Monday with nothing of relevance scheduled. I suspect we will see changes in mortgage rates multiple days this week, but in small increments rather than sizable moves.