August 15th, 2011
This week brings us the release of six reports that may influence mortgage rates, but only two of them are considered to be highly important. With no relevant auctions or speeches on tap, I suspect we will see much less movement in mortgage rates this week compared to the past couple of weeks.
With the wild swings in the markets last week, a calmer week won’t be too difficult to accomplish. We will still likely see more movement in the major indexes and mortgage rates, but probably to a lesser degree. There is no relevant data scheduled for release today, so look for the stock markets to drive bond trading and mortgage rates. Tuesday has two of the week’s six reports scheduled to be posted.
The first is July’s Housing Starts data. This report gives us an indication of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. However, it isn’t considered to be of high importance to the bond market or mortgage pricing and usually doesn’t cause much movement in mortgage rates unless it varies greatly from forecasts.
July’s Industrial Production is Tuesday’s second report with a release time of 9:15 AM ET. It gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities. It is considered to be moderately important to the markets and can influence mortgage rates slightly if it is a dead day for other news or events. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.4% increase in production, indicating some strength in the manufacturing sector. Good news for the bond market and mortgage rates would be a decline in output, signaling sector weakness.
One of the week’s key inflation indexes is July’s Producer Price Index (PPI) that will be posted early Wednesday morning. It will give us an indication of inflation at the producer level of the economy. There are two readings in the report- the overall index and the core data reading. The core data is more important because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices that can change significantly from month to month. Current forecasts call for no change in the overall reading and a 0.2% increase in the core data. A larger increase in the core data could push mortgage rates higher Wednesday morning. If it reveals weaker than expected readings, we may see mortgage rates improve as a result.
The PPI will be followed by the even more important Consumer Price Index (CPI) early Thursday morning. The Consumer Price Index is one of the most important reports we see each month as it measures inflation at the consumer level of the economy. As with the PPI, there are also two readings in the report. Current forecasts call for a 0.2% increase in the overall index and a 0.2% rise in the core data reading. Declines in the readings, especially in the core data, should lead to lower mortgage rates. However, stronger than expected readings will likely cause an increase to mortgage pricing Thursday
July’s Existing Home Sales report will be posted late Thursday morning. The National Association of Realtors will release this report, giving us a measurement of housing sector strength. It covers approximately 85% of home sales in the U.S., but usually does not have a major influence on bond trading and mortgage rates unless it varies greatly from analysts’ forecasts. It is expected to show an increase from June’s sales, meaning the housing sector strengthened last month. This would generally be bad news for the bond market and mortgage rates because a strengthening housing sector makes a broader economic recovery a little easier.
The third report of the day Thursday will come from the Conference Board, who will give us its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for July. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months and is considered to be moderately important. A higher than expected reading is bad news for the bond market because it indicates that the economy may be strengthening more than thought. However, a weaker than expected reading means that the economy may not grow as much as predicted, making stocks less appealing to investors. This also eases inflation concerns in the bond market and could lead to slightly lower mortgage rates Thursday if the stock markets remain calm and the day’s other data does not show any surprises. It is expected to show an increase of 0.2 % in the index, indicating minor economic growth over the next couple of months. The CPI will be the focus of the morning, so it will take a sizable difference between forecasts and its actual reading for this report to influence mortgage rates.
Overall, look for Thursday to be the busiest day of the week with the CPI being released, but Wednesday’s PPI can also cause plenty of movement in the markets and mortgage rates. Friday looks to be the lightest day. The rest of the week will likely be influenced by stock prices in addition to the moderately important economic data, which can be quite volatile as we have seen over the past couple weeks. Therefore, keep an eye on the markets and maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rate yet.