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Wednesday’s bond market has opened in positive territory, mostly as a reaction to early stock selling. The major stock indexes are showing sizable losses with the Dow down 123 points and the Nasdaq down 22 points. The bond market is currently up 9/32 (2.71%), which should improve this morning’s mortgage rates by approximately .125 – .250 of a discount point.
There is no relevant economic data being posted this morning. We are seeing typical safe-haven buying in bonds as investors look to limit exposure to the selling in stocks. Last night’s State of the Union address doesn’t appear to be a big influence on the stock markets. The selling seems to be more of a result of concerns about global markets and economic growth than anything else. That has led some investors to seek shelter in bonds, to the benefit of mortgage shoppers.
Whether or not that positive tone in bonds will extend to this afternoon is the big question. This afternoon brings us the adjournment of the FOMC meeting that can easily erase this morning’s bond gains or double them. It is expected to yield no change to short-term interest rates from the Fed, but traders will be looking for any indication of a change in sentiment about the economy and when a potential move in short-term rates will be made or when the next reduction in their current stimulus programs (QE3) will take place. This will also be current Fed Chairman Bernanke’s last FOMC meeting as chairman with current Vice Chair Janet Yellen taking over as Chairman Feb. 1st, although that shouldn’t affect this meeting’s results. There is a decent possibility of seeing afternoon volatility in the markets today due to the 2:00 PM ET post-meeting statement.