Thursday’s bond market has opened relatively flat despite another round of stock gains. The major stock indexes are showing sizable improvements this morning, pushing the Dow higher by 149 points and the Nasdaq up 35 points. The bond market is currently down 2/32 (2.19%), which should keep this morning’s mortgage rates at Wednesday’s early levels.
Yesterday’s afternoon release of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report didn’t show any significant surprises. It indicated that economic activity in most Fed regions grew at a modest or moderate pace during July and the first half of August. The report didn’t raise much concern or excitement and had almost no impact on mortgage rates.
Today’s only relevant economic data was last week’s unemployment figures at 8:30 AM ET. They revealed that 282,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, up from the previous week’s revised total of 270,000 and higher than the 273,000 that was expected. That indicates that the employment sector softened last week, making the data slightly favorable for bonds and mortgage rates. This was only a weekly snapshot and was not enough of a variance to cause much of a move in bonds.
Tomorrow brings us the release of the almighty monthly Employment report. The Labor Department will post the unemployment rate, number of new jobs added or lost and average hourly earnings for August at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow. The ideal scenario for the bond market and mortgage rates is rising unemployment, a drop in payrolls and earnings. Analysts are expecting to see that the unemployment rate slipped 0.1% to 5.2% and that 220,000 jobs were added during the month with a 0.2% increase in wages. Weaker than expected readings would signal softer than predicted employment sector growth that could delay a Fed rate increase. That would be very good news for bonds and mortgage rates. However, if we get noticeably stronger than expected numbers, making a bump to key short-term interest rates this month a little more likely, mortgage rates will probably spike higher tomorrow.