May 30th, 2011
This holiday-shortened week brings us the release of five important economic reports for the markets to digest. Two of the five are considered to be of very high importance to the bond market and mortgage rates. The remaining reports are considered to be of moderate importance to the markets.
The financial and mortgage markets will be closed today in observance of the Memorial Day holiday and will reopen Tuesday morning.
The Conference Board will start the week’s more important releases by posting their Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) at 10:00 AM Tuesday. This is data measures consumer willingness to spend. If the index rises, it indicates that consumers feel better about their personal financial situations and are more apt to make large purchases. If confidence is sliding, analysts think consumer spending may slow in the near future. The latter is good news for the bond market because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. A decline in the index should boost bond prices and push mortgage rates lower Tuesday morning. It is expected to show a reading of 66.3, up from April’s 65.4 reading.
The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing index will be posted late Wednesday morning. This highly important index measures manufacturer sentiment. A reading above 50 means that more surveyed manufacturing executives felt that business improved during the month than those who felt it had worsened. Analysts are expecting to see a 57.6 reading in this month’s release, meaning that sentiment fell during May. A smaller reading will be good news for the bond market and mortgage shoppers while an unexpected increase could contribute to higher mortgage rates Wednesday.
The revised 1st Quarter Productivity and Costs data is the first of two reports that will be released Thursday morning. This data measures employee output and employer costs for wages and benefits. It is considered to be a measurement of wage inflation. It is believed that the economy can grow with low inflationary pressures when productivity is high. Last month’s preliminary reading revealed a 1.6% increase, but I don’t think this piece of data will have much of an impact on the bond market or mortgage pricing unless it varies greatly from that reading.
The second release of the day will come from the Commerce Department, who will post April’s Factory Orders data during late morning trading. This manufacturing sector report is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders release, but also includes orders for non-durable goods. It can cause some movement in the financial markets if it varies from forecasts by a wide margin, but it isn’t expected to cause much change in rates this month. Current forecasts are calling for a decline in new orders of 1.0%.
Friday’s sole report is arguably the single most important report that we see each month. The Labor Department will post May’s Employment data early Friday morning. This report gives us key employment readings such as the U.S. unemployment rate and the number of jobs added or lost during the month. Analysts are expecting to see the unemployment rate remain at 9.0% this month with approximately 185,000 jobs added to the economy during the month. A higher than expected unemployment rate and a smaller number than 185,000 in new payrolls would be great news for the bond market. It would probably create a sizable rally in bonds, leading to lower mortgage rates Friday. However, stronger than expected numbers may lead to a spike in rates Friday morning.
Overall, Wednesday or Friday is likely to be the most important day of the week as they bring us the two most important reports on the agenda. If they give us weaker than expected results, we could close the week with lower mortgage rates than Tuesday’s opening levels. However, if we see stronger than expected readings in those two releases, I expect mortgage rates to move higher on the week.
But that is very much dependent on seeing a relatively calm week in stocks. As we have seen the past two weeks, stock market volatility can heavily influence bond trading and mortgage rates and significantly minimize the impact that these economic reports normally have on rates. Accordingly, it would be wise to maintain contact with your mortgage professional if still floating an interest rate.