Source: Ken Mason, Mortgage California
Wednesday’s bond market has opened in negative territory following slightly stronger than expected economic data and a positive open for stocks. The stock markets are extending yesterday’s afternoon rally, but to a much less degree. The Dow is currently up 44 points while the Nasdaq has gained 12 points. The bond market is currently down 9/32, but we may still see a slight improvement in this morning’s rates compared to yesterday’s morning pricing due to strength in bonds late yesterday.
This morning’s first piece of economic data was January's Housing Starts. It revealed a larger than expected increase in starts and an upward revision to December’s starts, hinting that the housing sector may be stronger than thought. Rising starts of new homes indicates more sales or stronger levels of optimism by builders. But, this data is not considered to be highly important to the markets or to mortgage rates. It is the week’s least important data and has not had much of an influence on this morning’s mortgage pricing.
Also posted this morning was January's Industrial Production data. It showed a 0.9% increase in output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities that exceeded forecasts. That indicates a level of manufacturing sector strength that is considered bad news for bonds and mortgage rates. However, this data is considered only moderately important, so it has not hurt mortgage rates this morning.
The third event of the day will be the release of the minutes from last FOMC meeting later today. Traders will be looking for any indication of the Fed’s next move regarding monetary policy. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, therefore, any reaction will come during afternoon trading. I am expecting some volatility in the markets after the minutes are released.
The Labor Department will post January’s Producer Price Index (PPI) early tomorrow morning. It measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy and is considered to be an important measurement of inflation. 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. It is expected to show an increase of 0.8% in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data.
Good news for bonds would be a decline in both readings, particularly the core data. Also tomorrow morning will be the release of the Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January. This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a 0.5% increase, meaning that economic activity may rise in the near future. A smaller than expected rise would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.