May 23rd, 2011
This week brings us the release of five important economic reports in addition to two Treasury auctions that may influence rates. Only two of the five reports are considered to be of fairly high importance to the bond market and mortgage pricing. The remaining reports are considered to be of moderate or low importance and will likely not heavily influence mortgage rates.
April’s New Home Sales data will be released late Tuesday morning. This report gives us a measurement of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. However, it is actually the least important release of the week and probably will not have much of an impact on mortgage pricing because it tracks only approximately 15% of all home sales. It is expected to show little change in sales from March’s level, meaning the new home portion of the housing sector was flat last month.
Wednesday has one of the week’s more important reports scheduled with April’s Durable Goods Orders being posted. This data gives us an indication of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket products.
It is currently expected to show a decline in new orders of approximately 2.0%, indicating manufacturing sector weakness. That would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this data is known to be quite volatile. Therefore, a small variance from forecasts would likely have little impact on mortgage rates Wednesday.
The first of two revisions to the 1st quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be released at 8:30 AM Thursday. The second revision to this report comes next month but isn’t expected to carry much importance. The GDP is the sum of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and is considered to be the best indicator of economic growth. Last month’s preliminary reading revealed a 1.8% increase in the annual rate of growth. Analysts expect a slight upward revision to this reading with the consensus being a 2.0% rate of growth. If the upward revision is much stronger than expected, we may see the bond market react negatively and mortgage rates move higher because it would mean the economy was stronger than thought last quarter.
April’s Personal Income and Outlays data is the first of two reports due Friday. It will be posted at 8:30 AM and gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. An increase in income means that consumers have more money available to spend. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, this data can cause movement in the financial markets and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are showing a 0.4% increase in income and a 0.5% rise in spending. Weaker readings would be considered good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
The second report of the day and the last relevant data of the week will come from the University of Michigan who will update their Index of Consumer Sentiment for May. It is forecasted to show a small increase from this month’s preliminary reading of 72.4. A reading above 72.6 would be considered negative for bonds and mortgage pricing.
Overall, I think we have a fairly busy week ahead of us. The big report of the week is Wednesday’s Durable Goods Orders. If Thursday’s GDP revision varies greatly from forecasts, it can also lead to sizable changes in rates. There are also a couple of Treasury auctions that are worth noting. The 5-year Note sale is Wednesday and the 7-year Note auction will be held Thursday. Both may influence bond trading and possibly mortgage rates if they are met with an exceptional demand or if there is lackluster interest from investors.
The bond market will close early Friday afternoon ahead of next Monday’s Memorial Day holiday. With all this, there is a pretty good possibility of seeing mortgage rates change several times this week- especially if there is more volatility in the stock markets. Accordingly, please proceed extremely cautiously if still floating an interest rate.