Mortgage Market Update
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
This week has only three monthly economic reports scheduled that we need to watch, in addition to a Treasury auction and stock influences. None of the reports are considered to be highly important or key releases. There is nothing of importance scheduled to take place tomorrow or Tuesday. The light calendar means we may not see as much movement in rates as we did other recent weeks.
Wednesday’s 20-year Treasury Note auction is the first scheduled event that may influence mortgage rates. Results of the sale will be posted at 1:00 PM ET, making this an afternoon event. These sales don’t directly affect mortgage rates but can impact broader bond trading sentiment that has the potential to indirectly move rates slightly. A strong demand from investors could lead to bond gains and a minor improvement in mortgage pricing Wednesday afternoon.
The first monthly economic report of the week will be March's Existing Homes Sales numbers from the National Association of Realtors at 10:00 AM ET Thursday. This release gives us an indication of housing sector strength and mortgage credit demand. It can influence mortgage pricing if it shows a sizable variance from forecasts. Ideally, the bond market would like to see a large decline in home resales because a softening housing sector makes broader economic growth more difficult. Analysts are expecting to see a small decrease in sales between February and March. The larger the decline, the better the news it is for bonds and mortgage rates.
Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for March will also be posted at 10:00 AM ET Thursday. This Conference Board index attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is considered to be only a moderately important report, so at best we can expect to see a slight movement in rates as a result of this data. The report is expected to show a 0.6% rise from February's reading, indicating economic growth over the next several months. Favorable news for mortgage rates would be a weaker reading.
March's New Home Sales numbers will close this week’s calendar at 10:00 AM ET Friday. This Commerce Department report tracks a much smaller portion of all home sales than the Existing Home Sales report does. It also gives us an indication of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. However, unless it varies greatly from analysts' forecasts, I am not expecting the data to cause much movement in mortgage rates. Market participants are forecasting a large increase in sales of newly constructed homes.
We also will be in earnings season this week, where publicly traded companies post their quarterly earnings and forward guidance. These releases generally have more of an impact on stock trading than bonds or mortgage pricing. That said, stock selling fueled by earnings disappointment can cause funds to shift into bonds for safety. Theoretically, bad news for stocks is good news for bonds and mortgage pricing, while favorable news for stocks often leads to higher mortgage rates.
Overall, no day stands out as the most important for rates. We can’t label one based on relevance of data since none of this week’s releases are expected to be a market mover. The calmest day may be Tuesday, but rates should remain fairly calm most of the week unless something unexpected happens. The benchmark 10-year Treasury Note yield closed at 1.57% last week, the lowest level since March 11th. That establishes a range to watch between 1.52% and 1.62%. If it can move below 1.52%, the next point of resistance looks to be below 1.40%, which would be good news for mortgage shoppers because rates tend to track bond yields. On the other hand, failure to do so should lead to an upward move in rates over the next week or so.