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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Market Commentary

Updated on September 28, 2023 10:06:36 AM EDT

Yesterday’s 5-year Treasury Note auction drew a decent interest from investors, but not overwhelmingly strong. The results failed to have an impact on bond trading. Bonds had already started to give back morning gains before the results were announced at 1:00 PM ET and the sale wasn’t strong enough to derail that negative momentum. As bond prices fell, pushing yields higher, some lenders revised pricing higher before the end of the day. We have the 7-year Note sale taking place today that could influence afternoon trading and mortgage pricing. A strong demand from investors could help boost bonds and lead to a slight improvement in rates later today.

This morning’s updated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reading for the second quarter was unchanged at up 2.1%. This means that the economy grew at an annual 2.1% pace during the April through June months. A secondary reading that is considered to be inflation-related was revised a little lower. That allows us to label the report favorable for rates. However, the data is aged now and the current quarter’s activity will be posted next month, meaning it has not helped this morning’s mortgage rates.

Also announced at 8:30 AM ET was last week’s unemployment update. It showed 204,000 new claims for benefits were made last week. This was an increase from the previous week’s revised 202,000 initial filings, but lower than the 215,000 that was expected. Accordingly, we are considering the data to be neutral to slightly negative for rates.

It obviously is not only economic data that is driving this week’s bond selling. It is interesting that the Dow was at a 3-4 month low yesterday, while bond yields were at a 16 year high. It seems that stock traders are worried about current events, such the impact a government shutdown will have on the economy, but bond traders are ignoring those same factors. With stocks in a downward trend and the current political environment likely to negatively affect the economy, it is difficult to understand why bond yields and mortgage rates are trending higher rather than lower. Maybe we will see more of a logical reaction when the threat of a shutdown becomes a reality next week.

Fed Chairman Powell has a public speaking engagement set for 4:00 PM ET today. He is hosting a town hall meeting with educators in person in Washington DC and nationally via webcast. The fact the participating audience are mostly teachers and others in the education field, there isn’t a high expectation of this event moving the markets. That said, any time he speaks, the markets listen and may react accordingly.

Tomorrow has the final two reports of the week. The first is Augusts Personal Income and Outlays at 8:30 AM ET that gives us an indication of consumer ability to spend and current spending habits. This is relevant to the markets because consumer spending makes up such a large part of the U.S. economy. Rising income generally means consumers have more money to spend, making economic growth more of a possibility. That is negative news for mortgage rates because bonds tend to thrive in weaker economic conditions. Forecasts are calling for a 0.5% rise in income and a 0.5% rise in spending. If we see weaker than expected readings, the bond market should react positively, leading to lower mortgage rates. This report also includes the PCE index that the Fed primarily uses for gauging inflation. A surprise in it can also lead to a strong move in mortgage pricing.

Closing out this weeks calendar will be the University of Michigans revised Index of Consumer Sentiment for September. The preliminary reading that was released earlier this month showed a 67.7 reading. Analysts are expecting to see no change, meaning consumer confidence was as strong as previously thought. Waning confidence is good news for bonds because consumers that are concerned about their own financial and employment situations are less likely to make a large purchase in the near future, limiting economic growth. Therefore, a lower than expected reading would be favorable news for rates.

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