What Happened Last Week
Last week, investors again focused on the expected new monetary stimulus program from the Fed, but no details were revealed.
The economic data released during the week continued to show low inflation and modest economic growth. As a result of no real surprises, mortgage rates ended the week with little change.
A speech by Fed Chief Bernanke on Friday confirmed the expectation that the Fed will soon provide additional monetary stimulus by purchasing Treasury securities. The Fed's plan is to boost the economy and to bring the inflation level up to the Fed's preferred rate. According to Bernanke, "There would appear - all else being equal - to be a case for further action." Investors hoping for more information about the size of the purchase program were disappointed, as Bernanke stated that it is still being discussed by Fed officials. Investors expect the Fed to reveal the details of the program at the next FOMC meeting on November 3, if not sooner.
The data released during the week showed that core inflation remains below the Fed's desired range of 1.5% to 2.0% per year. The September Core Consumer Price Index (CPI), which excludes the volatile food and energy components, increased just 0.8% from one year ago, which was the lowest annual rate in more than 49 years.
Central bankers around the world generally agree that a stable, positive inflation rate is optimal for long-term economic growth.
Industrial Production, an important indicator of economic growth, came out today, lower than it has been since July 2009, that's moving bond prices higher (lower mortgage rates). The National Homebuilder index improved from 13 to 16, but it takes a number above 50 to show consumer confidence. Rates stay low as of this posting.
What's Ahead For This Week:
Housing Starts will come out on Tuesday. The Fed's Beige Book, revealing current economic conditions in different regions of the country, will be released on Wednesday. The Philly Fed index and Leading Indicators are scheduled for Thursday.
Part of this post is from material provided by MBSQuoteline & XINNIX. Additional commentary by Mary Anne Daly