• Jenny Phung

Mortgage Market Update



This week brings us the release of only three pieces of monthly economic data that may affect mortgage rates and none of them are considered to be highly important. But it also has an afternoon of Fed events mid-week. We likely will see less movement in rates than we did last week but still will have multiple days with changes. May's Housing Starts is the first release of the week, coming early Tuesday morning. It tracks groundbreakings of new home projects, but is not considered to be as important as other housing reports. This means it likely will not affect mortgage rates unless its results vary greatly from forecasts. Market analysts are expecting to see an increase in starts of new homes last month. Good news for the bond market and mortgage rates would be a good-sized decline because a weakening housing sector makes broader economic growth less likely. This week's three Fed events will take place Wednesday afternoon. The first is the 2:00 PM adjournment of the FOMC meeting that begins Tuesday. This is when Fed Chairman Powell and company will decide whether or not to change key short-term interest rates. The consensus is that they will not make a change at this meeting. Because there is a wide consensus, the lack of a move itself shouldn't have a noticeable impact on the markets. But what is likely to heavily influence trading is any indication of when the Fed may make their next move, which is believed to be a possible rate cut. If there is a hint of that being a reality, the bond market should rally, causing mortgage rates to improve. Also at 2:00 PM ET Wednesday, the Fed will release their updated estimates for future economic activity. They will post their predictions on GDP growth, unemployment and inflation. These could be a market mover if they show even minor revisions to any of the key headline economic numbers. The larger the change, the more likely the markets will react. Revisions that point toward slower economic growth would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates. They will be followed by a press conference hosted by Chairman Powell at 2:30 PM ET. These press conferences with the media often lead to significant afternoon volatility in the markets and mortgage rates. Any surprises will probably cause a noticeable reaction in the markets. That means there is a high probability of seeing afternoon changes to mortgage rates Wednesday. The second monthly economic report of the week will be released late Thursday morning when May's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) is posted. The Conference Board, who is a New York-based business research group, produces this report. The LEI attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. Good news for mortgage rates would be a decline in this index, but it is expected to show a 0.1% increase from April's reading. This means it is predicting a modest increase in economic growth over the next several months. Since this report is not considered to be of high importance, I don't see it causing too much movement in rates regardless if it shows a particularly strong or weak reading. Closing out the week will be the National Association of Realtor’s Existing Home Sales report for May late Friday morning. 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 also influence mortgage rates if it shows a sizable difference between forecasts and actual results. Analysts are currently expecting to see an increase in sales. As with most economic reports we get, weak numbers would be favorable to mortgage rates. Overall, Wednesday is clearly the most important day of the week due to the FOMC events. Since there is no highly important economic data scheduled, we could see a couple days with little or no change to rates. Stocks will probably influence bond trading also. Stock weakness is generally good news for bonds and mortgage rates while gains are not. We may see rates move a little tomorrow due to weekend news of retaliatory tariffs from India that show more of an escalation than resolution in our trade wars. Despite the lack of a heavy schedule, we still should watch the markets as they can get volatile at any time. This is especially true if still floating an interest rate and closing in the near future.

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