Friday’s bond market has opened well in positive territory following the release of fairly favorable economic news and the apparent inability of stocks to add to yesterday’s gains. The stock markets are showing minor losses, but after yesterday’s 339 point gain in the Dow, this morning’s losses are magnified. The Dow is currently down 8 points while the Nasdaq has lost 6 points. The bond market is currently up 21/32, but due to weakness late yesterday, we will probably only see an improvement in mortgage rates of approximately .125 – .250 of a discount point if comparing to yesterday’s morning pricing. As stock prices climbed yesterday afternoon, bond prices suffered and many lenders revised rates higher late in the day.
Yesterday’s 7-year Note auction did not go very well at all. This contributed slightly to the afternoon selling in bonds, but the stock rally was the biggest culprit. As the major stock indexes rose, investors shifted funds away from bonds and back into stocks. The result was upward revisions to mortgage rates, although they are being muted by this morning’s bond rally.
September’s Personal Income and Outlays report that was posted early this morning revealed a 0.1% rise in income and a 0.6% increase in spending. The income reading was weaker than expected, meaning that consumers had less money available to spend than many had thought. That is good news for the bond market because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the U.S. economy. On the other hand, the spending reading matched forecasts. Even though the 0.6% was not a surprise, it still is a fairly healthy increase that could cause alarms if future reports show similar results. Still, we can consider this data favorable for bonds and mortgage rates.
We also saw the 3rd Quarter Employment Cost Index (ECI) early this morning. It showed an increase of 0.3% that was much smaller than forecasts. This means that employers’ costs for wages and benefits were not rising as quickly as expected. It somewhat correlates with the smaller than predicted increase in September’s personal income. These results ease wage inflation concerns, making this report good news for the bond market also.
The final report of the day was the revised University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment for October. They announced a revised reading of 60.9 that was above the 58.0 that was forecasted. What this means is that surveyed consumers were more optimistic about their own financial situations than previously thought. That is negative news for bond prices and mortgage rates because consumers that are more confident are more likely to make large purchases in the near future, fueling economic growth. However, this revision is considered to be only moderately important to the markets, so it has not derailed this morning’s bond rally and has had no influence on today’s mortgage rates.
Next week isn’t too busy in terms of the number of relevant economic reports scheduled, but it will be an active week nevertheless because of the importance of the data that is being posted. There is nothing of concern scheduled for Monday, but between Tuesday and Friday we have a highly important manufacturer sentiment index (ISM), the almighty monthly Employment report in addition to a couple other economic pieces and another FOMC meeting all to watch.
By Mark Woloshuk, Canyon Lending Group