December 26th, 2011
This week brings us the release of only one piece of monthly economic data that is considered important to mortgage rates. It is a true holiday-shortened week with the financial markets closed today for observance of Christmas and the bond market closing early Friday in recognition of the New Year’s Day holiday next weekend.
However, some traders will be working a short week, especially as it progresses, so we can expect to see some very light trading. That could mean little if nothing surprises the markets, but a significant piece of news or unexpected results from the little data being posted can cause a larger reaction than normal due to fewer traders working.
The week’s only and the year’s final important release comes late tomorrow morning when the Conference Board will post their Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for December. This is a fairly important release because it measures consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are more confident about their personal financial situations, they are more apt to make large purchases. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is watched closely by market participants and can have a significant influence on mortgage rate direction. Current forecasts are calling for an increase in confidence from November’s reading of 56.0. Analysts are expecting tomorrow’s release to show a reading of 58.0, meaning consumers felt better about their own financial situation than they did in November. The lower the reading, the better the news for bonds and mortgage pricing.
With little economic data being posted this week, the Labor Department’s weekly unemployment numbers may help influence the markets and mortgage rates more than usual. They are expected to show Thursday that 368,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, which would be an increase from the previous week. We usually don’t worry too much about this data because it tracks only a single week’s worth of new claims, but we should probably pay a little more attention to this particular release as it could impact mortgage rates slightly.
The bond market will close at 2:00 PM ET Friday, but the stock markets are scheduled to be open for a full day of trading. All banks and major U.S. financial markets will be closed Monday in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday. Everything will reopen next Tuesday morning for regular hours.
Overall, tomorrow will be the most important day of the week, but we may see some volatility any day. The thinnest trading will probably take place the latter part of the week as traders head home for the holiday. Despite last week’s shortened schedule, we saw plenty of movement in mortgage rates. This week likely will be the same as investors look to make year-end adjustments to their portfolios. Accordingly, I recommend keeping in contact with your mortgage professional if still floating an interest rate and closing in the immediate future.