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Wednesday’s bond market has opened in positive territory as the government shutdown extends to a second day. The stock markets are helping to boost bonds with sizable losses in the major indexes. The Dow is currently down 128 points while the Nasdaq has lost 28 points. The bond market is currently up 14/32, which should improve this morning’s mortgage rates by approximately .125 – .250 of a discount point over yesterday’s morning pricing. Limiting this morning’s improvement in rates was weakness in trading late yesterday that caused some lenders to revise pricing higher intra-day while others opted to wait until this morning’s opening to reflect those losses.
No government economic data was posted this morning due to the shutdown. We did get a bit of employment-related data from the private sector this morning. Payroll processor ADP announced this morning that their monthly report that tracks payroll changes from their business clients showed an increase of 166,000 jobs. This was a little softer than analysts were expecting to see and since it is unlikely that we will be getting Friday’s Labor Department report, more attention was given to this data than usual. The weaker number is good news for the bond market and mortgage rates because it indicates the employment sector was not as strong as many had thought.
Some media outlets are reporting that the weekly unemployment figures will be posted tomorrow morning as scheduled. There are conflicting reports on the accuracy of this, leaving us confused. Analysts are expecting to see that 315,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, up from 305,000 of the previous week. Rising initial claims indicates a softening employment sector, so the larger the number, the better the news it is for the bond market and mortgage rates. If it will be posted, it will be at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow.
Fed Chairman Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a community banking conference in the St. Louis area this afternoon. The topic of his speech likely would not have been a headline grabber, but considering the circumstances with the government shutdown and lack of key economic data this week, more attention will be given to this event. Any comments or questions on the economic impact of the government shutdown may move the markets during late afternoon trading. He is expected to speak at 3:00 PM ET, so any reaction will come after that time.