November 24th, 2014
This holiday-shortened week brings us the release of six relevant economic reports for the markets to digest in addition to a couple of Treasury auctions that have the potential to affect rates. All of the week’s data is being posted over only two days, partly due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so the middle part of the week should be the most interesting for mortgage shoppers.
The week’s data starts early Tuesday morning when the first revision to the 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is posted at 8:30 AM ET. It is expected to show a small downward revision from last month’s preliminary reading of a 3.5% annual rate of growth. The GDP measures the total of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and is considered to be the benchmark measurement of economic growth. Current forecasts call for a reading of approximately 3.3%, meaning that there was a little less economic activity during the third quarter than previously thought. This would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because strengthening economic growth hurts bond prices and mortgage rates.
November’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) will be released late Tuesday morning by the Conference Board, giving us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If a consumer’s confidence in their own financial and employment situation is strong, analysts believe that they are more apt to make larger purchases, fueling economic growth. This is important because consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy and makes long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors. Analysts are expecting to see an increase in confidence from last month’s level, meaning surveyed consumers were more optimistic about their own financial situations this month than they were last month. A weaker reading than the 96.0 that is expected would be good news for mortgage rates, while a stronger reading could push mortgage rates higher Tuesday.
Wednesday has the remaining four economic reports that we need to be concerned with. The first is October’s Durable Goods Orders at 8:30 AM ET. This data helps us measure manufacturing strength by tracking orders for big-ticket items or products that are expected to last three or more years, such as airplanes, appliances and electronics. This data is known to be quite volatile from month-to-month, so sizable swings from the previous month are fairly normal. It is expected to show a 0.6% decline in new orders. A larger than expected drop would be considered good news for the bond market and mortgage rates as it would indicate manufacturing sector weakness. However, we need to see a sizable variance from forecasts for the markets to have a noticeable reaction due to the usual volatility in the data.
October’s Personal Income and Outlays data is the second report of the day. This data measures consumers’ ability to spend and their current spending habits and is important because consumer spending is such a large part of the U.S. economy. It is expected to show that income rose 0.4% and that spending increased 0.3%. Weaker than expected readings would mean consumers had less money to spend and were spending less than thought. That would be favorable news for bonds and could lead to improvements in mortgage rates Wednesday morning.
The revised November reading to the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment will be posted just before 10:00 AM ET Wednesday morning. As with Tuesday’s CCI, it will give us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. Analysts are expecting to see an upward revision to the preliminary reading of 89.4. kUnless we see a significant variance from the forecasted 89.9, I don’t think this data will cause much movement in mortgage rates Wednesday.
October’s New Home Sales report will close out the week’s economic calendar. It will give us an indication of housing sector strength, but is the week’s least important release. Analysts are expecting to see little change between September and October’s sales of newly constructed homes. It will take a large change in sales for this data to influence mortgage rates, partly because this report tracks such a small portion of all home sales.
In addition to this week’s economic reports, there are two relatively important Treasury auctions that may also influence bond trading enough to affect mortgage rates. There will be an auction of 5-year Treasury Notes Tuesday and 7-year Notes on Wednesday. Neither of these sales will directly impact mortgage pricing, but they can influence general bond market sentiment. If the sales go poorly, we could see broader selling in the bond market that leads to upward revisions in mortgage rates. However, strong investor demand usually make bonds more attractive to investors and brings more funds into the bond market. The buying of bonds that follows often translates into lower mortgage rates. Results of the sales will be posted at 1:00 PM ET auction day, so look for any reaction to come during afternoon hours.
The financial markets will be closed Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. There will not be an early close Wednesday ahead of the holiday, but the stock and bond markets will close early Friday and will reopen next Monday morning. I suspect that Friday will be a very light day in bond trading as many market participants will be home. Banks have to be open Friday, but we will likely see little change to mortgage rates that day.
Overall, I am expecting Wednesday to be the busiest day for the bond market and mortgage rates with four of the week’s reports scheduled, but Tuesday is likely to be pretty active also with the most important release scheduled (Durable Goods). There is nothing of importance scheduled for Monday, but Friday will likely be the calmest day of the week as many traders will be home for the long weekend rather than in the office working.