November 28th, 2011
There are six pieces of economic news that may affect mortgage rates this week. Some of the data is considered highly important to the financial and mortgage markets, so it will likely be an active week for mortgage rates. As the week progresses, the data gets more important.
Unlike most Mondays, there is data being posted this morning with the release of October’s New Home Sales report. 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’s and October’s sales of newly constructed homes. It will take a large change in sales for this data to influence mortgage rates.
November’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) will be released late Tuesday morning by the Conference Board. It gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If consumer confidence is rising, analysts believe that consumers are more apt to make larger purchases, essentially fueling economic growth. This makes long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds less attractive to investors and usually leads to higher mortgage rates. Analysts are expecting to see a sizable increase in confidence from last month’s level, meaning consumers were more optimistic about their own financial situations this month than they were last month. A weaker reading than the 44.0 that is expected would be good news for mortgage rates, while a stronger reading could push mortgage rates higher Tuesday.
The next piece of data that we need to be concerned with comes early Wednesday morning when revised 3rd Quarter Productivity numbers are posted. This index is expected to show an upward revision from the preliminary reading of worker productivity. Higher levels of productivity are thought to allow the economy to expand without inflationary pressures rising. This is good news for the bond market because economic growth itself isn’t necessarily bad for the bond market. It’s the conditions around an expanding economy, such as inflation, that hurt bond prices and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for an annual rate of 2.6%, down from the previous estimate of 3.1%.
Also Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release their Beige Book at 2:00 PM ET. This report, which is named simply after the color of its cover, details economic conditions by region. That information is relied on heavily during the FOMC meetings when determining monetary policy, so its results can influence bond trading and mortgage rates if it shows any significant surprises. More times than not, this report will not influence the markets enough to cause intra-day changes to mortgage rates, but the potential to do so does exist.
November’s manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) will be posted at 10:00 AM ET Thursday. This index measures manufacturer sentiment and can have a considerable impact on the financial markets and mortgage rates. Current forecasts call for a small decline in sentiment from October to November. October’s reading was previously announced as 50.8. A weaker reading than the expected 51.0 would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. A reading above 50 means that more surveyed trade executives felt business improved during the month than those who felt it had worsened. The lower the reading the better the news for bonds because waning sentiment indicates a slowing manufacturing sector and makes a broader economic recovery less likely.
The biggest news of the week comes Friday morning when the Labor Department posts November’s Employment figures. This is arguably the most important monthly report we see. It is comprised of many statistics and readings, but the most watched ones are the unemployment rate, the number of news jobs added or lost during the month and average hourly earnings. Current forecasts call for no change in the unemployment rate of 9.0% while 117,000 new jobs were added to the economy. The income reading is forecasted to show an increase of 0.2%. An ideal scenario for mortgage shoppers would be a higher unemployment rate than 9.0%, a smaller increase in payrolls and no change in the earnings reading. If we are fortunate enough to hit the trifecta with all three, we should see the stock markets fall, bond prices rise and mortgage rates move lower Friday. However, stronger than expected readings would likely fuel a stock rally and bond sell-off that would lead to higher mortgage rates.
Overall, the most important day of the week is Friday with the employment figures being released, but we may also see sizable movement in rates Thursday. Friday’s employment data could cause a significant change in rates, but Thursday’s ISM index is also one of the more important reports we see each month. If Friday’s data reveals stronger than expected results we may see rates spike higher after its release, possibly erasing any gains from the week. It will probably be the key to rates moving lower or higher for the week. I suspect it will be a fairly active week for the markets and mortgage pricing, especially the latter part, so it would be prudent to maintain contact with your mortgage professional if still floating an interest rate.