November 12th, 2012
This holiday-shortened week brings us the release of four monthly economic reports for the markets to digest along with the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. With very important data scheduled for release two different days and relevant data three of the four trading days, we will likely see a fair amount of volatility in the markets and mortgage pricing this week. The bond market will be closed Monday in observance of the Veteran’s Day holiday, but the stock markets will be open for business. While we may see some lenders open for business, many likely will not issue new rates or lock agreements until Tuesday morning when the bond market reopens. Because the bond market is closed Monday, there will be no update to this report.
There is nothing of relevance scheduled for release Tuesday, leaving the bond market to movement in stocks and overseas news. But Wednesday makes up for it with three events scheduled that we need to watch, including two of the week’s more important economic reports. The Commerce Department will give us October’s Retail Sales figures early Wednesday morning. This data measures consumer spending, which is considered extremely important to the markets because it makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. It is expected to show a 0.2% decline in retail-level spending, meaning consumers spent less last month than they did in September. An increase in spending would be considered negative news for bonds because increases in spending fuels an economic recovery and raises inflation concerns in the bond market. If Wednesday’s report reveals a larger than expected decline in spending that indicates consumers spent less than thought, bonds should react favorably, pushing mortgage rates lower. If it shows an unexpected increase, mortgage rates will likely move higher.
The second report of the morning Wednesday is the release of October’s Producer Price Index (PPI) from the Labor Department, which is one of the two key inflation readings on tap this week. The PPI measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the index that are used- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. If it reveals stronger than expected readings, indicating that inflationary pressures are rising at the manufacturing level, the bond market will probably react negatively and cause mortgage rates to move higher. Analysts are expecting to see no change in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data.
Also worth noting is the release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting 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, so any reaction will come during afternoon trading. This release is one of those that may cause some volatility in the markets after they are posted, or could be a non-factor. If they show anything surprising, we may see some movement in rates Wednesday afternoon, but it is more likely there will be little reaction.
Thursday’s only monthly report is October’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM ET. This index is similar to Wednesday’s PPI, except it measures inflationary pressures at the more important consumer level of the economy. We consider the CPI one of the most important reports the bond market gets each month. The overall reading is expected to show a 0.1% increase from September’s level while the core data is also expected to rise 0.1%. Weaker than expected readings would be good news for bonds and mortgage rates, while larger than forecasted increases could lead to higher mortgage rates Thursday morning.
The week closes with only a moderately important release Friday morning. October’s Industrial Production data will be posted mid-morning Friday. It gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is expected to reveal a 0.1% increase in production, indicating little strength in the manufacturing sector. Stronger levels of production would be considered bad news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this data is not as important as the most of the week’s other reports are. Therefore, it will likely take a sizable variance from forecasts for it to have a noticeable impact on mortgage pricing.
Overall, look for Wednesday to be the most important day of the week with two very important reports scheduled and the FOMC minutes, but Thursday’s CPI is also a major release for the bond market. It is difficult to label any particular day as the quietest day, but Tuesday is a good candidate. The key releases will be Wednesday’s Retail Sales and Thursday’s CPI reports. They will probably determine whether rates close the week higher or lower than Tuesday’s opening levels. Since this is likely to be a fairly active week for mortgage rates, it would be prudent to maintain regular contact with your mortgage professional if still floating an interest rate.