Today's Economic Data Highlights
After this morning’s data on mortgage applications, we have import/export price data and two Fed speeches….
The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of mortgage applications surged 14.6% last week on the back of a 21% increase in applications for refinancing. The purchase loan index fell 8.5%, reversing all the previous week’s increase. At 181.8 (March 16, 1990 = 100), this index remains in the low range (160-200) that has prevailed since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit in April 2010, though a modest upward trend within that range is visible since midyear.
8:30: Import/export price indexes for Sep….a small decline? After rising through most of 2009 and into the early months of 2010, this index has moved little on balance since the spring, both overall and excluding petroleum. Analysts expect a small decline, on balance, for September. While details of these forecasts are not available, the forecast ex petroleum is probably about flat.
Median forecast (of 52): -0.2%, ranging from -0.8% to +0.5%; last +0.6%.
16:10: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke participates in a discussion on business innovation….Both the specialized nature of the forum and the lack of a prepared text suggest that this is unlikely to contain market-moving material. But one can never rule that out completely, especially as he apparently will take questions. He will be speaking again on Friday morning at a Boston Fed conference, and the title of that speech—Monetary Policy Objectives and Tools in a Low-Inflation Environment—clearly says that this is the time to tune in (8:15 am, right in front of the CPI/retail sales data).
19:45: Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks to business leaders….in North Carolina’s research triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area. Since no topic is given, we assume this will cover the economic and financial outlook, most likely including his (probably skeptical) view on the wisdom and effectiveness of quantitative easing. Mr. Lacker is not currently a voting member of the FOMC; his next turn comes in 2012.
From Goldman Sachs