April 30th, 2012
There are five economic reports scheduled for release this week that are relevant to mortgage pricing, but two of them are considered to be highly important to the financial and mortgage markets. In addition, there are several public speaking engagements by different regional Federal Reserve Presidents this week that may influence the markets.
However, I suspect that the economic reports and significant movement in stocks will be the biggest factors in whether mortgage rates move higher or lower this week.
March’s Personal Income & Outlays is the first of the economic releases, coming early tomorrow morning. It helps us measure consumers’ ability to spend and current spending habits, which is important to the mortgage market due to the influence that consumer spending-related data has on the financial markets. If a consumer’s income is rising, they are more likely to make additional purchases in the near future, fueling economic growth. This raises inflation concerns and has a negative impact on the bond market and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.3% increase in the income reading and a 0.4% rise in spending. If we see smaller than expected readings, the bond market should open higher tomorrow morning, making an improvement to mortgage rates a good possibility.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) will post their manufacturing index for April late Tuesday morning. This is one of the first important economic reports released each month and gives us an indication of manufacturer sentiment. A reading above 50 means that more surveyed trade executives felt business improved during the month than those who felt it had worsened. This points toward more manufacturing activity and could hurt bond prices, pushing mortgage rates higher. Analysts are expecting to see a reading of 53.0, which would be a slight decline from March’s level of sentiment. The lower the reading, the better the news for bonds and mortgage rates.
March’s Factory Orders data is Wednesday’s only relatively important data. It will be released at 10:00 AM ET, giving us a measure of manufacturing sector strength. It is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders, except this report includes non-durable goods such as food and clothing. Generally, the market is more concerned with the durable goods orders like refrigerators and electronics than items such as cigarettes and toothpaste. This is why the Durable Goods report, usually has more of an impact on the financial markets than the Factory Orders report does. Still, a noticeably larger decline than the 1.8% that is expected could push mortgage rates slightly lower. But, an unexpected increase in new orders could lead to slightly higher mortgage pricing Wednesday.
The Labor Department will release its 1st Quarter Productivity and Costs data early Thursday morning. This information helps us measure employee productivity in the workplace. High levels of productivity help allow low-inflationary economic growth. If employee productivity is rapidly rising, the bond market should react favorably. However, a larger decrease than what is forecasted could cause bond prices to drop and mortgage rates to rise Thursday morning. It is expected to show a 0.4% decline in productivity.
Friday brings us the release of the almighty monthly Employment report, giving us April’s employment statistics. This is where we may see a huge rally or major sell-off in the bond market and potentially large changes in mortgage rates. The ideal situation for the bond and mortgage markets would be an increase in the unemployment rate and a much smaller number of payrolls added to the economy during the month than was expected.
Just how much of an improvement or worsening in rates depends on how much variance there is between forecasts and actual readings. This could turn out to be a wonderful day in the mortgage market, but it also carries risks of seeing mortgage rates move higher if the Labor Department posts stronger than expected readings. Current forecasts are calling for the unemployment rate to remain at 8.2% and that approximately 162,000 jobs were added during the month.
Overall, I believe Friday will be the most important day of the week with the employment data being posted. It can easily erase the week’s accumulated gains or losses in mortgage rates if it shows any surprises. We may actually see a noticeable change in rates Tuesday also if the ISM index shows favorable or unfavorable results. The middle part of the week will likely be the calmest, but I still suggest proceeding cautiously if still floating an interest rate. This would be a good week to maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked a rate yet.