October 8th, 2012
This week brings us the release of four economic reports that are of interest to the mortgage market along with two fairly important Treasury auctions. The week also gets heavy in quarterly earnings releases for companies, which could cause significant movement in the stock markets. The earnings results could affect bond trading as investors move funds into stocks if the reports are good. The other possibility is that earnings would generally disappoint, meaning investors may move funds out of stocks and into bonds as a safe-haven. The latter would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.
The bond market is closed Monday in observance of the Columbus Day holiday and will reopen Tuesday morning. The stock markets are open for trading Monday, so their movement is worth watching as a sizable move up or down in the major indexes may influence bond trading and mortgage pricing early Tuesday morning. I suspect many mortgage lenders will be closed tomorrow, as will U.S. banks. If anyone is open for business and does post rates tomorrow, you can expect to see an increase of approximately .125 of a discount point from Friday’s morning pricing due to weakness in bonds late Friday afternoon.
The first report of the week comes at 2:00 PM ET Wednesday afternoon when the Federal Reserve posts its’ Beige Book. This report details economic conditions throughout the U.S. by Fed region and is relied upon heavily by the Federal Reserve when determining monetary policy at their FOMC meetings. If it reveals stronger signs of economic growth from the last release, we could see mortgage rates revise higher Wednesday afternoon.
Also Wednesday is the first of two important Treasury auctions this week. The sale of 10-year Notes will be held Wednesday while 30-year Bonds will be sold Thursday. We often see some weakness in bonds ahead of the sales as the firms participating prepare for them. However, as long as the auctions are met with decent demand from investors, the firms usually buy them back. This tends to help recover any presale losses. But, if the sales are met with a lackluster interest from investors- particularly international buyers, the bond market may move lower after the results are posted and mortgage rates may move higher. Those results will be announced at 1:00 PM each sale day.
August’s Trade Balance report will be released early Thursday morning. It gives us the size of the U.S. trade deficit but is the week’s least important report and likely will have little impact on the bond market and mortgage rates. Analysts are expecting to see a $43.8 billion deficit, but it will take a wide variance from forecasts to directly influence mortgage pricing.
The week closes with two reports being posted Friday morning, one of which is very important to the bond market and mortgage rates. That would be September’s Producer Price Index (PPI) early Friday morning. This is one of the two very important inflation readings we get each month. This index measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. Analysts are expecting to see a 0.8% increase in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. A larger than expected increase could raise concerns in the bond market about future inflation and lead to higher mortgage rates Friday. However, weaker than expected readings should result in bond market strength and lower mortgage pricing.
The last report of the week is October’s preliminary reading to the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment late Friday morning. This index measures consumer willingness to spend and usually has a moderate impact on the financial markets. Rising confidence means consumers feel better about their own financial and employment situations, meaning they are more apt to make a large purchase in the near future. Since consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related date is watched closely. Good news for the bond market would be a sizable decline in consumer confidence, but due to the importance of Friday’s other report, I suspect this data will have little impact on mortgage rates. It is expected to show a reading of 78.5, up slightly from September’s final of 78.3.
Overall, I am expecting to see a fair amount of movement in mortgage rates again this week, but the biggest changes will likely come the latter part of the week. The key economic report is Friday’s PPI but the Fed’s Beige Book also has the potential to influence the markets and mortgage rates if it shows any surprises. Therefore, we can label Wednesday or Friday as the most important day of the week. Also worth noting is the active week for corporate earnings that can cause a great deal of volatility in stocks and mortgage rates any day of the week. Accordingly, please proceed cautiously and maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rate yet.