March 7th, 2011
All of the data will be posted the latter part of the week. Only one of the three reports is considered to be of high importance to the markets, so several days will likely be influenced more by stock trading and other factors than the economic news of the day.
January’s Goods and Services Trade Balance is the week’s first economic data. It comes early Thursday morning and gives us the size of the U.S. trade deficit. It is the week’s least important piece of news and likely will not influence mortgage rates much. Current forecasts are calling for a $41.5 billion trade deficit during January, but we will need to see a large variance from this estimate for the news to influence bond trading enough to affect mortgage pricing.
There will be two reports posted Friday morning. The first is at 8:30 AM and is the most important of the week. This is when the Commerce Department will post February’s Retail Sales data. It is extremely important to the financial markets because it measures consumer spending. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, data that is related usually has a big impact on the markets. This month’s report is expected to show an increase in sales of approximately 1.0%. If Friday’s release reveals a larger than expected increase, the bond market will likely fall and mortgage rates will move higher as it would indicate economic growth. If it reveals a much smaller than expected increase, I expect to see bond prices rise and mortgage rates improve Friday morning.
Also on tap Friday is the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment for March at 9:45 AM. This index gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If confidence is rising, then consumers are more apt to make large purchases. This helps fuel consumer spending and economic growth. A drop in confidence will probably hurt the stock markets and boost bond prices, leading to lower mortgage rates.
If the index rises, indicating that confidence is rising and spending will likely follow, we may see mortgage rates move higher late Friday morning. It is expected to show a reading of 76.5, which is would be a noticeable decline from February’s final reading 77.5.
Overall, it will likely be another active week in the mortgage market. Friday will probably be the most important day of the week with the Retail Sales report due, while the calmest day could be tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on the stock markets.