This week brings us the release of only three pieces of economic data that may influence mortgage rates in addition to a Treasury auction and the minutes from last month’s FOMC meeting. This should help keep rates fairly calm compared to the past couple of weeks. There is nothing of importance set for tomorrow, but there is at least one event or report scheduled every other day.
Starting this week's calendar is July's Housing Starts at 8:30 AM ET Tuesday, giving us an idea of housing sector strength and future mortgage credit demand. It usually doesn't cause much movement in mortgage rates unless it varies greatly from forecasts. Tuesday's release is expected to show an increase in new home groundbreakings last month. The lower the number of starts, the better the news for the bond market, as it would hint at a weaker than expected new home portion of the housing sector.
Wednesday doesn’t have any relevant economic releases scheduled but does have two afternoon events that we will be watching. The first is an auction of 20-year Treasury Notes that will give us an indication of investor interest in longer-term securities. Results of the sale will be posted at 1:00 PM ET. If demand was strong, we could see the broader bond market improve and mortgage rates move slightly lower during early afternoon trading. On the other hand, a lackluster interest could pressure bonds and lead to a slight upward revision to rates before the end of the day Wednesday.
The second event Wednesday is the release of the minutes from the last FOMC meeting. Market participants will be looking for how Fed members voted during the last meeting and any comments about concerns in the economy, future economic growth and the Fed's potential plans for boosting the economy during the pandemic. Since the minutes will be released at 2:00 PM ET, if there is a market reaction to them it will be evident during mid-afternoon trading. This is one of those events that can cause significant movement in rates after its release or be a non-factor. Therefore, be prepared for a move, but not surprised if the impact on rates is minimal.
Besides the weekly unemployment update, we will also get July’s Leading Economic Indicators from the Conference Board Thursday morning. They are a New York-based business research group and not a governmental agency. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months and is considered to be moderately important. A higher than expected reading is bad news for the bond market because it would be predicting that the economy may be stronger than thought. However, a weaker reading means that the economy may not grow as much as predicted, making bonds more appealing to investors. It is expected to show an increase of 1.1% in the index, indicating relatively strong economic growth over the next couple of months. It will take a sizable difference between forecasts and its actual reading for this report to noticeably influence mortgage rates.
July's Existing Home Sales report will close out this week’s calendar late Friday morning. The National Association of Realtors will release this report, giving us a measurement of housing sector strength. It covers a high percentage of all home sales in the U.S., but usually does not have a major influence on bond trading and mortgage rates unless there is a large variance from analysts' forecasts. It is expected to show a sizable increase from June's sales as the housing sector continues to rebound from the shutdown. This is generally bad news for the bond market and mortgage rates because a strengthening housing sector makes broader economic growth more likely. But unless the increase is much larger than current forecasts, the report will likely have a minimal impact on Friday's mortgage pricing.
Overall, Wednesday afternoon or Friday are the best candidates for most active day for rates while Tuesday could be the calmest day. That said, any day can be become quite volatile if unexpected vaccine or financial news is announced. Even though this week will likely be much calmer for rates than the past couple weeks, it would still be prudent to proceed cautiously if still floating an interest rate and closing in the near future.