Updated on February 21, 2018 10:42:37 AM EST
The National Association of Realtors posted Januarys Existing Home Sales report at 10:00 AM ET this morning, announcing a 3.2% decline in home resales. Analysts were expecting to see an increase from December’s sales, indicating the housing sector was not as strong as many had thought. Because that is a sign of economic weakness, it is good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
We also have two afternoon events taking place today that may influence mortgage rates. The first is the 5-year Treasury Note auction results at 1:00 PM ET. This isn’t a highly important event, but these auctions do carry enough importance to affect mortgage rates slightly. What determines whether or not they come into play is the interest level in the securities, particularly from international investors. If the sales go poorly, we could see broader selling in the bond market that leads to upward revisions in mortgage rates. On the other hand, sales with higher levels of investor demand usually make bonds more attractive to investors and bring additional funds into the bond market. The buying of bonds that follows often translates into lower mortgage rates. This will be repeated tomorrow with the 7-year Note sale.
Next up is the release of the minutes from the January 31st FOMC meeting. Traders will be looking for any indication of the Feds next move regarding monetary policy, especially when the next rate increase may come. There will be extreme interest in any discussion of more or fewer rate hikes than currently expected this year. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, therefore, any reaction will come during afternoon trading. These minutes may lead to afternoon volatility, or they may be a non-factor. However, they do carry the potential to influence mortgage rates, so they should be watched.
Besides the 7-year Note auction, tomorrow also has two minor pieces of economic data scheduled. The first will be last week’s unemployment figures at 8:30 AM ET. They are expected to show that 233,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, up from the previous week’s 230,000 initial claims. Since rising claims hint at employment sector weakness, the higher the number the better the news it is for mortgage rates. It is worth noting though, that because this is only a weekly report, it likely will have little impact on tomorrow’s mortgage rates unless it shows a significant variance.
The final monthly report of the week will be Januarys Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) at 10:00 AM ET tomorrow morning. This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a 0.8% increase, meaning that economic activity should expand in the near future. A smaller increase would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. This data is not considered to be highly important, so a sizable variance from forecasts is also needed for it to directly affect mortgage rates.
©Mortgage Commentary 2018