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Mortgage market Comments for the Week of 1/18/2010

Mortgage and Lending with Mortgages By Mick


Mortgage bond prices rose last week pushing mortgage interest rates lower. The bond market rallied nicely Tuesday following moves by China to curb growth. Oil prices fell almost immediately providing a much-needed reprieve following the recent run up in prices tied to severe cold weather across the US. The consumer price index data showed tame inflation, which also helped rates improve.

For the week interest rates fell by about 1/2 of a discount point.

The inflation data Wednesday will be the most important economic release this week. Signs of stronger than expected inflation would not be good for mortgage interest rates. The bond market is closed Monday in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday. Interest rates may be volatile Tuesday as trading resumes following the extended holiday weekend.



Date and Time



Producer Price Index

Jan. 20,
8:30 am, et

Core up 0.2%

Important. An indication of inflationary pressures at the producer level. Weaker figures may lead to lower rates.

Housing Starts

Jan. 20,
8:30 am, et

Up 1.0%

Important. A measure of housing sector strength. Weakness may lead to lower rates.

Weekly Jobless Claims

Jan. 21,
8:30 am, et


Moderately Important. An indication of employment. Higher figures may result in lower rates.

Leading Economic Indicators

Jan. 21,
8:30 am, et

Up 0.5%

Important. An indication of future economic activity. Weakness may lead to lower rates.

Philadelphia Fed Survey

Jan. 21,
8:30 am, et


Moderately important. A survey of business conditions in the Northeast. Weakness may lead to lower rates.


The index of leading economic indicators (LEI) is a weighted average of eleven economic variables that "lead" the business cycle. It is constructed for forecasting future aggregate economic activity. The eleven variables that make up the LEI measure workers' hours, initial unemployment claims, new factory orders, vendor performance, contracts and orders for plant and equipment, new housing permits, changes in unfilled orders, prices of raw materials, stock prices, money supply and consumer expectations.

Each of the variables that comprise the index has a tendency to predict (or lead) economic activity. For example, new orders for manufactured goods, new orders for plant and equipment, and new building permits are all direct measures of the amount of future production being planned for the economy.

Analysts monitor the LEI in an effort to predict future economic growth. When the LEI report is up, mortgage market participants expect credit demand to increase and inflationary pressures to build. Thus, when the LEI report is rising, interest rates tend to rise as well.

The LEI report is a valuable forecasting device that correctly predicts most economic turning points. The percentage change in the LEI is reported monthly and is an indication of the activity that will occur within the next three to six months. The LEI tends to turn down before peaks in the business cycle. Continuous declines are generally accepted as evidence that a recession continues.

Nine of the eleven components that make up this index are known before the release of the report, so the index is easy for economists to predict. Thus, although this is important predictive data for market participants, surprises are not common with the release of this data.

Posted by

Mick Rothblott

Mortgage & Construction Loan Planner


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