Mortgage Market Update
This week brings us the release of six economic reports for the markets to digest in addition to two Treasury auctions that have the potential to come into play. The first of this week’s events takes place late tomorrow morning when the National Association of Realtors posts May’s Existing Home Sales. This report tracks resales of existing homes, giving us a measurement of housing sector strength. It is considered to be moderately important to the markets, but can influence mortgage rates if it shows a sizable difference between forecasts and actual results. Analysts are currently expecting to see an increase in sales, pointing towards a strengthening housing sector. That would be bad news for the bond market and mortgage rates. A weaker housing sector makes overall economic growth more difficult, so a sizable decline would be ideal for the bond market and mortgage shoppers. Tuesday has two reports scheduled for release, one of which is the most important report of the week. This would be May's Durable Goods Orders from the Commerce Department early morning, giving us an indication of manufacturing sector strength. It tracks orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket items, or products that are expected to last three or more years such as electronics, appliances and airplanes. This data is known to be quite volatile from month to month and is expected to show a decline of 0.5% in new orders from April to May. A large decline would be the ideal scenario for the bond market and would hopefully lead to a decline in mortgage pricing as it would indicate manufacturing sector weakness. May's New Home Sales report will also be released Tuesday, but during late morning trading. It helps us measure housing sector strength by tracking sales of newly constructed homes. This report is similar to tomorrow’s Existing Home Sales report, but covers a much smaller portion of sales than that report does. It is expected to show a small increase in sales, but will likely not have much of an impact on mortgage rates because this data gives such a small snapshot of the housing sector. I believe it will take a large rise in sales or a sizable decline for this data to influence mortgage rates. Wednesday's only economic data is the final reading to the 1st Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP is the sum of all products and services produced in the U.S. and is considered to be the best measurement of economic growth or contraction. However, this particular data is quite aged now (covers January through March) and will likely have little impact on the bond market or mortgage pricing unless it varies greatly from previous readings. Market participants are looking more towards next month's release of the current quarter's initial GDP reading. Last month's first revision showed a 0.7% annual rate decline in the GDP. That was a larger contraction than many had were expecting to see. Wednesday’s update is expected to show a 0.2% decline, meaning the economy did contract during the quarter but at a slower pace than previously thought. An increase in the GDP would be considered negative for rates as it means stronger economic activity. May's Personal Income and Outlays data is scheduled for release Thursday at 8:30 AM ET. This report gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending activity. They are important because consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. If consumer income is rising, they have more money to spend each month. Analysts are expecting to see an increase of 0.5% in income and a 0.7% rise in the spending portion of the report. Smaller increase in both of these readings would be considered good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. The University of Michigan will close out this week's data when they update their Index of Consumer Sentiment for May late Friday morning. This index gives us a measurement of consumer willingness to spend. If consumers are more comfortable with their own financial and employment situations, they are more apt to make large purchases in the near future, fueling economic growth. Accordingly, any consumer spending related data has the potential to affect bond trading and mortgage rates. A downward revision would be considered good news for bonds and rates, but forecasts are calling for little change from this month's preliminary reading of 94.6. Also worth noting is the fact that the Fed will be selling more debt this week. These sales may influence broader bond trading enough to affect mortgage rates if they show strong or weak investor demand. There are sales every day except Friday but the two most likely to affect rates are Wednesday's 5-year Note sale and Thursday's 7-year Note auction. If they are met with a strong demand, we could see bond prices rise during afternoon trading. This could lead to afternoon improvements to mortgage rates also. But, if the sales draw a lackluster interest from investors, mortgage rates may move higher during afternoon trading those days. Overall, no day stands out as an easy choice for most important. We could see rates change noticeably multiple days this week. The single most important report is Tuesday’s Durable Goods but Thursday’s income and spending data is going to draw quite a bit of attention also. The calmest day will probably be Wednesday unless something unexpected happens. However, we can see the markets get volatile at any time, especially when other factors can take the spotlight such as stock movement and financial issues overseas, particularly with Greece currently.