MMG Weekly / Vantage Production.blueForecast for the Week

With little economic data on the calendar and trading volumes decreasing toward the end of the week ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, we could have a volatile week ahead.

  • Economic reports begin on Thursday with weekly Initial Jobless Claims. Last week’s numbers hit seven-year lows.
  • Look for two key housing reports at the end of the week: Existing Home Sales on Thursday and New Home Sales on Friday.

In addition, the minutes from the April 29-30 Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The minutes could offer even more volatility, especially if they reveal additional details regarding tapering of the Fed’s massive Bond buying program.

The Bond markets will be closing at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Friday and all U.S. markets will be closed the following Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving–and when they are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further–a red “candle” means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green “candle” means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes were on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates reached some of their best levels in recent months. With a potentially volatile week ahead, I’ll be watching the markets closely.

Chart: Fannie Mae 4.0% Mortgage Bond (Friday May 16, 2014)

Japanese Candlestick Chart
The Mortgage Market Guide View…

Weigh Online Travel Reviews Carefully
Compare opinions on several sites, and don’t neglect word of mouth.

Before dropping a few hundred dollars on a fancy hotel room with rave online reviews, be sure that what you’re reading is legitimate, and not the work of a hired writer or the business itself. As online review platforms such as Yelp and TripAdvisor become more popular, businesses have a greater incentive to game the system–—drumming up buzz with planted accolades or tarnishing competitors with unfair criticism. Last year the New York state attorney general’s office cracked down on 19 companies that solicited fake reviews to prop up local services.

The problem has not gone unnoticed by review sites. Yelp filters out 25% of submissions. Some sites require the reviewer to have made a reservation for a hotel room or restaurant through the site before detailing his or her experiences; other sites highlight contributors with authenticated profiles or alert consumers to suspicious content.

But no site has a foolproof system, so it’s important to cross-reference write-ups for the same establishment on different sites. The breadth of reviews on free sites should provide enough accurate information. If you’re looking for a specialized service, scrutinize the reviewer, not just the review. A full profile, a history of contributing to the site and a “verified user” tag are good signs. And don’t neglect word of mouth. “Asking people you know and trust is the first thing you should do before trusting strangers online,” says Boston University professor Georgios Zervas, who studied fraudulent Yelp reviews.

If you’re the one penning a negative assessment, avoid becoming the target of legal threats by sticking to indisputable facts, toning down hyperbole and emphasizing that this is your experience.

By Miriam Cross,

Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2014 The Kiplinger Washington Editors.

Economic Calendar for the Week of May 19 – May 23

Economic Report
Wed. May 21
FOMC Minutes
Thu. May 22
Jobless Claims (Initial)
Thu. May 22
Existing Home Sales
Fri. May 23
New Home Sales

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