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The Weekly Mortgage Commentary

September 25th, 2017

This week brings us the release of six monthly and quarterly economic reports for the markets to digest in addition to two Treasury auctions. None of the data is considered to be key, but several of the reports can directly affect mortgage pricing. There is at least one release set for each day except for Monday, so we can expect to see a fairly active week in the bond and mortgage markets.

August’s New Home Sales will start the week’s activities late Tuesday morning. The Commerce Department is expected to say that sales of newly constructed homes rose last month, indicating the new home portion of the housing sector strengthened a little. This report will likely not have a noticeable impact on mortgage rates unless it differs greatly from forecasts. It is the week’s least important report in terms of potential impact on mortgage rates, partly because it covers only the small portion of all homes sales that last week’s Existing Home Sales report did not.

September’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) is next, also coming late Tuesday morning. This Conference Board index will be posted at 10:00 AM ET and gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. It is expected to show a decline in confidence from last month’s reading, indicating that consumers were less optimistic about their own financial situations than last month. This means they are less likely to make a large purchase in the near future. That is favorable news for the bond market and mortgage rates because consumer spending fuels economic growth. Analysts are calling for a reading of approximately 119.4, down from August’s 122.9 reading. The smaller the reading, the better the news for the bond market and mortgage rates.

August’s Durable Goods Orders will be posted at 8:30 AM ET Wednesday, which is the week’s most important report. This report gives us an indication of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders for big-ticket items at U.S. factories. Big-ticket products are items that are expected to last three or more years such as electronics and appliances. Analysts are expecting to see a 0.7% increase in new orders, indicating growth in the manufacturing sector. A decline should help boost bond prices and cause mortgage rates to drop Wednesday because signs of economic weakness make longer-term securities more appealing to investors. However, a larger increase in new orders would indicate a stronger than expected manufacturing sector that will likely help push mortgage rates higher. It is worth noting that this data is known to be quite volatile from month-to-month, so a slight or moderate variance may not affect mortgage pricing.

The Treasury will sell 5-year Notes Wednesday and 7-year Notes Thursday. They will tell us if there is an appetite in the markets for medium-term securities. If investor demand in these sales is strong, particularly from international buyers, the broader bond market should move higher, pushing mortgage rates lower. But a lackluster interest from investors could lead to bond selling and higher mortgage pricing. The results of the sales will be announced at 1:00 PM ET each day, so any reaction will come during afternoon trading Wednesday and/or Thursday.

Thursday morning has the second revision to the 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since this data is aged now and the preliminary reading of the 3rd Quarter GDP will be released next month, I don’t see this revision having much of an impact on the financial markets or mortgage pricing. The GDP is important because it is the total sum of all goods and services produced within the U.S. and is considered the best measurement of economic activity. It is expected to show that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.0%, unchanged from last month’s estimate. The lower the number, the better the news it is for mortgage rates. However, unless there is a significant change in this reading, it likely will not influence mortgage rates.

Friday closes the week with two pieces of data that we will be watching. The first is August’s Personal Income and Outlays at 8:30 AM ET. It gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. This is relevant to the markets because consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Rising income generally indicates that consumers have more money to spend, making economic growth more of a possibility. That is negative news for mortgage rates because bonds tend to thrive in weaker economic conditions. It is expected to show an increase of 0.2% in income and a 0.1% rise in spending. If we see weaker than expected readings, the bond market should react positively, leading to lower mortgage rates Friday.

The second report of the day is the University of Michigan’s revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for September. The preliminary reading that was released earlier this month showed an 95.1 reading. Analysts are expecting to see a slight upward revision, meaning consumer confidence was a bit stronger than previously thought. Waning confidence is good news for bonds because consumers that are concerned about their own financial and employment situations are less likely to make a large purchase in the near future, limiting economic growth. Therefore, a lower than expected reading would be favorable news for bonds and should help improve mortgage rates.

Overall, Wednesday or Friday are likely to be the most active day for mortgage rates while Monday or Thursday should be the calmest. I am not expecting to see a big jump or decline in mortgage rates any day this week, but we should see them move most days, if not every day.

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