November 14th, 2011
This week brings us the release of six monthly economic reports for the markets to digest. With very important data scheduled for release two different days and relevant data four of the five days, we will likely see a fair amount of volatility in the markets and mortgage pricing this week.
There is nothing scheduled for release Monday, leaving the bond market to movement in stocks and overseas news. As of now it appears we may see some pressure in bonds and a possible increase to mortgage rates tomorrow.
The first data is one of the most important reports of the week. The Commerce Department will give us October’s Retail Sales figures early Tuesday morning. This data measures consumer spending, which is considered extremely important to the markets because it makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. It is expected to show a 0.4% rise in spending, meaning consumers spent much less last month than they did in September. A larger increase would be considered negative news for bonds because large increases in spending fuels an economic recovery and raises inflation concerns in the marketplace. If Tuesday’s report reveals a smaller than expected increase in spending, bonds should react favorably, pushing mortgage rates lower. If it shows a larger than expected increase, mortgage rates will likely move higher.
Also Tuesday 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 a 0.2% decline in the overall reading and a 0.1% increase in the core data.
Wednesday also has two reports scheduled that will likely influence mortgage rates. The first is October’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM ET. This index is similar to Tuesday’s PPI, except it measures inflationary pressures at the more important consumer level of the economy. We consider this report as one of the most important reports we get each month. The overall reading is expected to show no change from September’s level while the core data is 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 Wednesday.
October’s Industrial Production data will be posted mid-morning Wednesday. 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 0.4% increase in production, indicating moderate 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 CPI readings are. A significant surprise in the CPI would likely make this data a non-factor in Wednesday’s mortgage pricing.
Thursday’s only monthly data is October’s Housing Starts. This data gives us an indication of housing sector strength, but usually does not have a noticeable impact on mortgage rates. I don’t expect this month’s version to be any different unless it varies greatly from analysts’ forecasts. It is expected to show a sizable decline in starts of new homes.
The final report of the week will come from the Conference Board late Friday morning when they release their Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for October. This is a moderately important report that attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a 0.6% increase, meaning economic activity will rise fairly rapidly over the next couple of months. Generally speaking, this would be bad news for bonds. However, since this data is considered only moderately important, its results need to vary by a wide margin from forecasts for it to affect mortgage rates.
Overall, look for Tuesday or Wednesday to be the most important with very important reports scheduled those days. It is difficult to label any particular day as the quietest day, but Thursday is a good candidate. The key releases will be Tuesday’s Retail Sales and Wednesday’s CPI reports. They will probably determine whether rates close the week higher or lower than tomorrow’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.