There is no relevant economic news scheduled for release today or tomorrow. There are only four pieces of economic data scheduled to be posted the rest of the week along with an after-hours congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. The first report comes early Wednesday morning with the release of January's Retail Sales report. This report is very important to the financial markets because it measures consumer spending. Since consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is watched quite closely. If Wednesday's report reveals weaker than expected sales, the bond market should thrive and mortgage rates will fall. However, a stronger reading than the 0.3% decline that is forecasted could lead to higher mortgage rates.
The week's least important data is December's Goods and Services Trade Balance report early Thursday morning. This report measures the U.S. trade deficit and can affect the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencie s, but it usually does not cause enough movement in bond prices to affect mortgage rates.
Mr. Bernanke will deliver the Fed's semi-annual testimony on the status of the economy late Thursday afternoon. He will be speaking to the Senate Banking Committee and market participants will watch his words very closely. The Fed Chairman is required to deliver this testimony twice a year, which is considered to be of extreme importance to the financial markets. We almost always see the markets move as a result of what he says during this testimony, but this time is being done after market hours. If he indicates that inflation is still a concern, the bond market will likely fall mortgage rates will rise early Friday as a result. But, if he says that inflation remains under control, we should see the markets rally and mortgage rates fall Friday.
Overall, look for Wednesday or Friday to be the most important days of the week. The Retail Sales report is a biggie and Mr. B ernanke's after-hours testimony Thursday is also very important to bonds and mortgage rates. This means that we are most likely to see the most movement in mortgage rates Wednesday or Friday. Throw in an early close Friday ahead of Monday's President's Day holiday, and we have the makings for an interesting week for bond traders and mortgage shoppers. Please proceed cautiously and maintain contact with your mortgage professional if you have not locked an interest rate yet.
If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would.... Lock if my closing was taking place within 7 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days... Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days... Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now... This is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.
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