Monday's bond market has opened in positive territory following weaker than expected economic news. The stock markets are posting gains with the Dow up 42 points and the Nasdaq up 15 points. The bond market is currently up 3/32, but we may still see slight increase in this morning's mortgage rates due to weakness late Friday.The week's first report came late this morning from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). They posted their Manufacturing Index for October, showing a reading of 38.9 that was well below forecasts and a 26-year low. The index measures manufacturer sentiment and this morning's release indicated sentiment is softening. This is good news for bonds and mortgage rates because slowing manufacturing activity usually means a weakening economy and eases inflation concerns. Tomorrow's only relevant news is September's Factory Orders report. This report is similar to last week's Durable Goods Orders release except it includes orders for both durable and non-durable goods. It is expected to show 0.8% decline in orders from August's level. A larger decline would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates while a smaller than expected drop is bad news. There is no important data scheduled for release Wednesday. Thursday's report is the 3rd Quarter Productivity reading. The productivity index is expected to show a level of worker productivity during the third quarter much lower than last quarter's final reading of 4.3%. Analysts have forecasted a 1.0 rise in worker output. A larger increase would be good news for the bond market because high levels of productivity helps the economy to expand without inflationary pressures being a concern.The last report of the week is the most important. Friday brings us the release of one of the most important monthly reports- the Employment report. The Labor Department will post October's employment stats early Friday morning. The report is comprised of many statistics and readings, but the most important ones are the unemployment rate, the number of new jobs added or lost during the month and average hourly earnings. Current forecasts call for a 0.2% rise in unemployment to bring the national rate to 6.3%, a drop in payrolls of approximately 200,000 and a 0.2% increase in average earnings. Weaker than expected readings should rally bonds and lead to improvements in mortgage rates, especially if the stock markets react poorly to the news.Overall, I am expecting to see a moderately active week in mortgage pricing. The key to the week will be Friday's employment numbers, but any significant swings in the stock markets may also influence whether mortgage rates close the week higher or lower than this morning's levels.
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