August 19th, 2009 9:01 AM by Mel Samick
Tuesday's bond market has opened down slightly despite the release of weaker than expected economic news. The stock markets have recovered some of yesterday's losses with the Dow up 82 points and the Nasdaq up 25 points. The bond market is currently down 38 basis points, which should push rates lower this morning.The Labor Department gave us July's Producer Price Index (PPI) this morning, saying that the overall index fell 0.9% and that the core data reading fell 0.1%. Analysts had predicted a 0.2% decline in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data. This means that prices at the producer level of the economy were much weaker than expected. That indicates that inflationary pressures at that level are not a concern at the moment, making long-term securities such as mortgage related bonds more attractive to investors. Unfortunately, traders seem to be more concerned with the stock markets than today's economic news.The second report of the day was also favorable for bonds, but it is much less important than the PPI reading. The Commerce Department said that starts of new homes fell last month, hinting that the housing sector may not be as ready to recover as some analysts had thought. Many market participants were expecting to see an increase in stats of new homes. A weak housing sector if favorable to bonds because it makes a broader economic recovery less likely in the immediate future.There is no relevant economic data scheduled for release tomorrow, so look for the stock markets to again influence bond trading and mortgage pricing. If the stock markets can hold this morning's gains and move higher tomorrow morning, there is a pretty good possibility of seeing mortgage rates inch higher tomorrow. But if we see stock weakness, bonds may benefit, pushing mortgage rates lower. Thursday's primary data is July's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) from t he Conference Board. This index attempts to measure economic activity over the next three to six months and is considered to be moderately important. A higher than expected reading is bad news for the bond market because it indicates that the economy may be strengthening more than thought. However, a weaker than expected reading means that the economy may not grow as much as predicted, making stocks less appealing to investors. This also eases inflation concerns in the bond market and could lead to slightly lower mortgage rates Thursday if the stock markets remain calm. Current forecasts are calling for an increase of 0.6% in the index, indicating economic growth over the next couple of months.