April 7th, 2014
This week brings us the release of only two monthly economic reports that are relevant to mortgage rates, in addition to a couple of Treasury auctions and the minutes from the last FOMC meeting that have the potential to be influential on the bond market and mortgage pricing. Corporate earnings season also kicks off this week, which could be instrumental in driving stock prices significantly higher or lower. Since stock movement often affects bond trading, we will also be watching the earnings releases from some of the bigger names and bellwethers to help gauge bond direction and mortgage rates movement.
There is no relevant economic news scheduled for release Monday or Tuesday. The first events of the week will come Wednesday afternoon. One is the release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. Market participants will be looking at them closely as they give us insight to the Fed’s current thought process and individual Fed member opinions. Any surprises in the 2:00 PM ET release, particularly about inflation, economic conditions or their current bond buying program, could cause afternoon volatility in the markets Wednesday and possible changes in mortgage pricing.
The two Treasury auctions are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. There is a 10-year Treasury Note sale Wednesday and a 30-year Bond sale Thursday. We could see some weakness in bonds ahead of the sales as participating firms sell current holdings to prepare for them. This weakness is usually only temporary if the sales are met with a decent demand. The results of the auctions will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If the demand from investors was strong, the bond market could rally during afternoon trading, leading to lower mortgage rates. If the sales were met with a poor demand, the afternoon weakness may cause upward revisions to mortgage pricing Wednesday and/or Thursday afternoon.
Friday has both of the week’s important economic data scheduled. The Labor Department will start the day by posting March’s Producer Price Index (PPI) at 8:30 AM ET. It will give us an important measurement of inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the report that analysts watch- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is more important to market participants because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. If it shows rapidly rising prices, inflation fears may hurt bond prices since it erodes the value of a bond’s future fixed interest payments, leading to higher mortgage rates. A good size decline in prices would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are calling for a 0.1% increase in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data.
The only other monthly release of the week worth watching is the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 AM ET Friday. Their consumer sentiment index will give us an indication of consumer confidence, which hints at consumers’ willingness to spend. If confidence is rising, consumers are more apt to make large purchases. But, if they are growing more concerned of their personal financial or employment situations, they probably will delay making that purchase. This influences future consumer spending data and can have a moderate impact on the financial markets. Good news would be a sizable decline from March’s 80.0 reading. Current forecasts are calling for a reading of approximately 81.0.
Overall, look for the most movement in rates the latter part of the week. I don’t believe Friday’s rally in bonds will necessarily carry into Monday’s trading, so any gains to open the week will likely be a result of stock losses that help shift funds into bonds. Wednesday could be the most active day of the week if the FOMC minutes reveal any surprises. If not, the best bet would be Friday. Tuesday appears to be the lightest and will probably be the calmest day for mortgage rates. Look for the stock markets to also influence bond trading and mortgage rates a good part of the week as traders react to the corporate earnings news. I am expecting it to be an active week for the mortgage market, so please maintain contact with your mortgage professional if still floating an interest rate.