Category Archive: Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 16, 2016

Last week’s economic events included weekly releases on new jobless claims, mortgage rates and testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen concerning the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Here are the details:

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Drop

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last Thursday, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage seven basis points lower at 3.65 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 2.95 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.83 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30 and 15 year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Lower mortgage rates may encourage first-time and moderate income home buyers to enter the market, although slim supplies of available homes and rising home prices have caused ongoing concerns about affordability in many markets.

Weekly jobless claims were also lower. 269,000 new claims were filed as compared to estimated claims of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 285,000 new jobless claims. This was the lowest reading in two months and suggests healthy labor markets as more workers find jobs. Readings lower than 300,000 new jobless claims indicate healthy jobs markets. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was lower by 3500 claims at 281,250 new claims filed. Analysts consider the four-week reading as a more accurate indicator of labor markets as it smooths out anomalies in weekly claims.

Yellen Testimony: Fed Won’t Change Course on Rates

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that she doesn’t expect interest rate cuts in view of slowing economic indicators. In testimony before the House Financial Services panel, Chair Yellen indicated that although there are signs of slower economic conditions, there was still room for economic growth. She cited a strong labor market and strong consumer and business spending as indicators of economic expansion. Analysts interpreted Chair Yellen’s testimony to indicate that the Fed would not likely raise its target federal funds rate in March.

Chair Yellen said that monetary policy is not on a “preset course”. Federal Reserve press releases consistently state that policy makers review current and developing domestic and global economic trends as part of any decision to raise rates. In view of this, Chair Yellen’s testimony did not cover what could happen if future economic developments influence Fed policy. Recent concerns over volatile financial markets caused by the weakening in China’s economy were cited as examples of “downside risks” that could impact the Fed’s monetary policy.

Readings for Consumer Sentiment suggest that consumers are also watching economic developments. February’s reading decreased to 90.7 as compared to January’s reading of 92.0.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits. FOMC minutes and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Feburary 8, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 8 2016Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on construction spending and several labor-related reports along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

Construction Spending Higher in December

U.S. construction spending rose by 0.10 percent in December for a seasonally adjusted annual total of $1.12 trillion. The Commerce Department reported that construction firms spent 10.5 percent more than in 2014.Residential construction spending totaled $416.8 billion for 2015, which was 12.60 percent higher than in 2015.

Higher construction spending can be a double-edged sword, as it can indicate that builders are stepping up construction or that they are paying higher prices for labor and supplies. Builders have consistently cited labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable land as concerns. Short supplies of available homes impacted housing markets in 2015. Low inventories of homes drive up home prices and impact affordability for first-time buyers; these conditions eventually slow housing markets with fewer qualified buyers and home sales.

Fed Benchmarks Show Mixed Readings

The Federal Reserve consistently cites its goals of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent as benchmarks for its decision to raise or not raise the target federal funds rate. National unemployment reached a new low of 4.90 percent in January against expectations of 5.00 percent and December’s reading of 5.00 percent. Inflation held steady with no increase in January; this offsets the good news concerning unemployment. Lower oil prices are holding inflation well below the Fed’s desired rate of 2.00 percent.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.72 percent; the corresponding rate for 15 year mortgages fell six basis points to 3.01 percent and the average rate for a5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped five basis points to2.85 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 285,000 new claims against expectations of 280,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. While rising jobless claims could suggest a slowing jobs market, the low unemployment rate suggests otherwise.

Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP Payrolls Fall

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm payrolls added 151,000 jobs in January as compared to expectations of 180,000 jobs added and December’s reading of 262,000 jobs added in December. Analysts said that January’s reading is further evidence that a long-running decline in new jobless claims has ended.

ADP payrolls were also lower in January with 205,000 new jobs posted as compared to December’s reading of 267,000 private sector jobs added. Holiday hiring likely impacted higher readings in December, but time will tell if declining job growth is trending.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include data on job openings, consumer sentiment and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony.