This week has only two pieces of monthly economic data scheduled for release in addition to a couple of Treasury auctions that have the potential to influence mortgage rates. Both of the economic releases are considered highly important though and the Treasury auctions are the more important set of auctions we regularly deal with, so despite the lack of a busy calendar we still should see noticeable movement in rates this week.
Monday has no relevant economic data scheduled, but does have several afternoon speaking engagements by Federal Reserve members. The topics of a couple of the speeches are related to the economy, so analysts and traders will be watching them for any surprises or tidbits that could alter forecasts of what future moves the Fed may make and when they will be made. Often these appearances are non-factors because they are related to banking rules or other boring topics. Since some of Monday’s look to be directly related to current and future economic conditions, we could see one or more of them affect afternoon trading and mortgage pricing.
There are Treasury auctions scheduled for several days this week, but the two we need to watch are the 10-year Note sale Wednesday and the 30-year Bond sale Thursday. Wednesday’s auction is the more important one and will likely have a bigger influence on mortgage rates. Results of the sales will be posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. If they are met with a strong demand from investors, particularly international buyers, we should see strength in the broader bond market and improvements to mortgage pricing during afternoon hours those days. On the other hand, a weak interest in the auctions could lead to upward revisions to mortgage rates.
November’s Retail Sales report is scheduled for release Thursday at 8:30 AM ET. This report will give us a key measurement of consumer spending by tracking sales at retail level establishments. This data is highly important to the markets because consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Rapidly rising consumer spending raises the possibility of seeing solid economic growth. Since long-term securities such as mortgage bonds are usually more appealing to investors during weaker economic conditions, a large increase in retail sales will likely drive bond prices lower and mortgage rates higher Thursday. Current forecasts are calling for an increase of 0.6% in November’s sales.
The second and final relevant report of the week will be November’s Producer Price Index (PPI) early Friday morning. It measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy. There are two portions of the index that are used- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is the more important of the two because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices, giving a more stable reading for analysts to consider. If Friday’s release reveals stronger than expected readings, indicating that inflationary pressures are rising, the bond market will probably react negatively and drive mortgage rates higher. If we see in-line or weaker than expected numbers, the bond market should respond well and mortgage rates could fall. Current forecasts are showing a 0.1% decline in the overall index and a 0.1% rise in the core data.
Overall, I suspect Thursday will be the most active day of the week with the consumer spending data and 30-year Bond auction, but Friday’s data can also cause movement in rates. The calmest day will likely be Tuesday. It will probably be a calmer week than last week in terms of mortgage rate movement although we still should see rate changes multiple days. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield closed the week at 2.88% after touching 2.92% immediately after November’s stronger than forecasted Employment report was posted. I believe this week will help determine if that yield will break above 2.90% again or retreat towards 2.62%. Since mortgage rates tend to follow bond yields, the latter would be preferred by mortgage shoppers. Because the 2.92% on Friday was momentarily, I am hesitant to rely on it as a basis in switching to Float recommendations. Therefore, I am maintaining the conservative stance towards locking or floating an interest rate for the time being.