Princeton Capital Blog

This Week’s Market Commentary

May 9th, 2011

There are five pieces of relevant economic data scheduled for release this week that may affect mortgage rates, in addition to two important Treasury auctions.

The four most important four reports will be posted over two days, meaning the markets will have to rely on factors other than economic news for direction several days. There is no relevant data due today or Tuesday, so expect the stock markets to help drive bond trading and mortgage rates those days.

March’s Goods and Services Trade Balance report will be released early Wednesday morning. This report gives us the size of the U.S. trade deficit but likely will not have much of an impact on the bond market or mortgage pricing. It is expected to show a $47.8 billion trade deficit, but it is the least important of this week’s data and likely will have little influence on Wednesday’s mortgage rates.

The Treasury will hold a 10-year Note sale Wednesday and a 30-year Bond sale Thursday. Results of the auctions will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If they are met with a strong demand from investors, we could see bond prices rise enough during afternoon trading to cause downward revisions to mortgage rates. However, lackluster bidding in the sale, meaning longer-term securities are losing their appeal, could lead to higher mortgage pricing those afternoons.

The first important piece of data this week is April’s Retail Sales, which will be released at 8:30 AM ET. It is an extremely important report for the financial markets since it measures consumer spending. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so this data can have a pretty significant impact on the markets. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.6% increase in sales from March to April.

A weaker than expected level of sales should push bond prices higher and mortgage rates lower Thursday morning as it would signal that economic activity may not be as strong as thought. However, a larger increase could fuel fears of economic growth that would lead to bond selling and higher mortgage rates.

April’s Producer Price Index (PPI) will also be released early Thursday morning. It helps us measure inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. If this report reveals weaker than expected readings, indicating inflation is not a concern at the producer level, we should see the bond and stock markets rally. The overall index is expected to show an increase of 0.5%, while the core data that excludes more volatile food and energy prices has been forecasted to rise 0.2%. No change or a decline in the core data would be ideal for mortgage shoppers because inflation is the number one nemesis for long-term securities such as mortgage-related bonds.

Friday has the remaining two reports. The first is April’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 8:30 AM ET. It is similar to Thursday’s PPI report, but measures inflationary pressures at the more important consumer level of the economy. These results will be watched closely and can lead to significant volatility in the bond market and mortgage pricing if they show any surprises. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.4% increase in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the core data reading. As with the PPI, the core data is the more important of the two readings.

The last report of the week is May’s preliminary reading to the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment. This index measures consumer willingness to spend, which relates to consumer spending. If consumers are more confident of their own financial situations, they are more apt to make large purchases in the near future. This report usually has a moderate impact on the financial markets though, because it is not exactly factual data. It is expected to show a reading of 69.8, which would be no change from last month’s final reading.

If it shows a large decline in consumer confidence, bond prices could rise and mortgage rates would move slightly lower, assuming the CPI does not give us a significant surprise. The CPI is much more important to the markets than the sentiment index is, so look for it to be the biggest influence on Friday’s mortgage pricing.

Overall, it likely will be another active week for mortgage rates. Besides the week’s important economic news, look for the stock markets to be a major influence on trading. The most important day of the week is Thursday with the Retail Sales and PPI reports on the agenda, but Friday’s CPI is extremely important to the bond market. It appears we will likely see the most movement in mortgage rates the latter part of the week unless the stock markets post sizable gains or losses the first part. With some very important data being posted this week, it would be prudent to be attentive to the markets if still floating an interest rate.

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