There are seven economic reports scheduled for release this week that have the potential to affect mortgage rates. There is relevant data scheduled for every day this week with a couple of those reports considered to be highly important. Therefore, I believe it will be another active week for mortgage rates.
April's Personal Income and Outlays data is the first at 8:30 AM ET. It gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. An increase in income means that consumers have more money available to spend. Since consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of our economy, this data can cause movement in the financial markets and mortgage rates. Current forecasts are showing a 0.3% increase in income and a 0.2% rise in spending. Weaker readings would be considered good news for bonds and mortgage rates.
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index will be posted late tomorrow morning. This highly important index measures manufacturer sentiment. One reason why it is considered so important is the fact that it is the first piece of economic data posted every month that covers the preceding month. In other words, it is the first look into the previous month's economic conditions. That differs from many reports that aren't released until mid or late month. A reading above 50 means that more surveyed manufacturing executives felt that business improved during the month than those who felt it had worsened. Analysts are expecting to see a 51.9 reading in this month's release, meaning that sentiment rose a little during May. A smaller reading will be good news for the bond market and mortgage shoppers while a larger than expected increase could contribute to higher mortgage rates tomorrow.
Tuesday's only release will come from the Commerce Department, who will post April's Factory Orders data during late morning trading. This manufacturing sector report is similar to last week's Durable Goods Orders release, but also includes orders for non-durable goods. It can cause some movement in the financial markets if it varies from forecasts by a wide margin, but it isn't expected to cause much of a change in rates this month. Current forecasts are calling for no change from March’s level.
There are two reports worth watching Wednesday. The ADP Employment report is first, set for release before the markets open. It has the potential to cause some movement in the markets if it shows much stronger or weaker numbers than expected. This report tracks changes in private-sector jobs of ADP's clients that use them for payroll processing. While it does draw attention, it is my opinion that it is overrated and is not a true reflection of the broader employment picture. It also is not accurate in predicting results of the monthly government report that follows a couple days later. Still, because we sometimes see a reaction to the report, we should be watching it. Analysts are expecting it to show that 200,000 new payrolls were added. The lower the number of jobs, the better the news it is for mortgage rates.
Wednesday's other relevant report is the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which is named simply after the color of its cover. This report details economic conditions throughout the U.S. by Federal Reserve region. It is relied upon heavily by the Fed to determine monetary policy during their FOMC meetings. If it shows surprisingly softer economic activity since the last report, the bond market may thrive and mortgage rates could drop shortly after the 2:00 PM ET release. If it reveals signs of inflation growing or rapidly expanding economic activity in many regions, we could see mortgage rates revise higher Wednesday afternoon.
The revised 1st Quarter Productivity and Costs data is Thursday’s report. This data measures employee output and employer costs for wages and benefits. It is considered to be a measurement of wage inflation. Many analysts believe that the economy can grow with low inflationary pressures when productivity is high. Last month's preliminary reading revealed a 1.9% decline in productivity and a 5.0% increase in labor costs. Thursday’s update is predicted to show that productivity fell at a 2.9% annual rate while labor costs rose 5.9%. I don't think this piece of data will have much of an impact on the bond market or mortgage pricing either unless it varies greatly from expectations, but stronger productivity and weaker labor costs would be favorable for bonds and mortgage rates.
Friday’s sole report is the single most important report that we see each month. The Labor Department will post May's Employment data early Friday morning, giving us key employment readings such as the U.S. unemployment rate and the number of jobs added or lost during the month. Analysts are expecting to see the unemployment rate stay at 5.4% with approximately 225,000 jobs added to the economy during the month. A higher than expected unemployment rate and a much smaller number than 225,000 would be great news for the bond market. It would probably create a sizable rally in bonds, leading to lower mortgage rates Friday. However, stronger than expected numbers should cause a stock rally and a spike in mortgage rates.
Overall, it appears that Friday is the key day of the week with regards to mortgage rate movement. However, tomorrow or Wednesday could also be active days for mortgage pricing. Tuesday or Thursday will probably be the lightest day unless something totally unexpected happens with stocks. Although, as we have seen many times over the past couple weeks, we don't necessarily have to have a significant event or economic report released for the bond market and mortgage rates to become volatile.