What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 23, 2016

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreLast week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, reports on housing starts, building reports and existing home sales. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last FOMC meeting were also released.

Homebuilder Confidence Unchanged, Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that builder confidence held steady with a reading of 58 in May. Analysts projected a reading of 58 and April’s reading was also 58. Builder confidence in market conditions could be slowing due to concerns over acquiring skilled labor and a shortage of developed lots. Demand for homes remains high, but a slim inventory of available properties and builder emphasis on higher-priced homes contributed to sidelining moderate income and first-time buyers.

Commerce Department reports for April Housing Starts and Building Permits issued suggest that tight housing inventories may receive some relief. April housing starts rose from a revised March reading of 1.099 million to 1.170 million starts. Housing starts increased by 6.60 percent in April. Housing starts have slowed as compared to the year-over-year period from April 2015 to 2016; housing starts increased by 10 percent for the same year-over-year period in 2015. While any increase in home construction is welcome, some analysts said that they did not expect a huge increase in home construction in coming months.

Construction of multifamily housing units rose by 10.70 percent, while single-family home construction increased by 3.30 percent. Rising rents and millennials delaying home purchases were seen as fueling multifamily home construction. As homes become less affordable, would-be buyers are continuing to rent, which places higher demand on rental units.

Pre-owned Home Sales Rise in April

Sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.70 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million sales. Sales increased by 12.10 percent in the Midwest, where homes are most affordable, and fell by 1.70 percent in the West, where homes are most costly. This development suggests that rapidly rising home prices have or will soon reach maximum levels in high-cost areas. Home prices in many areas rose rapidly in preceding months as short inventory and high demand created bidding wars and keen competition for available homes. A lack of affordable single family homes has caused some buyers to buy condos while others have put buying on hold.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.58 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.82 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.80 percent. Discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively. Analysts are watching the Fed closely for any indication that it will raise the target federal funds rate in June, although concerns over the possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union could cause the Fed to hold off on raising the rate. If the Fed raises the target federal funds rate, loan rates for credit cards and mortgages would also increase.

New jobless claims fell last week to 278,000 new claims against expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 294,000 new claims. Analysts said that a telecommunications strike caused the prior week’s raise in claims as striking workers who are replaced during a strike are eligible for jobless benefits.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include new and pending home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady in May

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure StatementThe National Association of Home Builders reported that home builder confidence in the U.S. housing market conditions held steady for the fourth consecutive month in May. Builder confidence stayed at a reading of 58, which was the number expected by analysts and was also the reading for April. Analysts said that the consistency in readings signified expansion in housing markets. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than not are confident about market conditions.

Components of the NAHB Housing Market Index include readings on builder confidence in current market conditions which held steady at 63 and builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months, which gained three points to a reading of 54. Builder confidence in foot traffic for new home developments was unchanged at a reading of 44.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that the higher reading for future sales indicates growing builder confidence in housing market conditions. In recent months, housing markets have been fueled by low mortgage rates and high demand, but supplies of available homes are dwindling. Housing industry analysts have identified building new homes as a major solution for the shortage of homes for sale.

Analysts note that while new homes represent a small part of the residential real estate market, each new home constructed contributes an average of three jobs for a year and yields an average of $90,000 in tax revenue for each home built. Builders repeatedly cite a lack of workers and buildable lots as a concern for building more homes. An NAHB analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on Job Openings and Labor Turnover indicated that there were 210,000 unfilled construction jobs in March, which was the highest reading since May 2007.

Regional surveys of home builder sentiment were mixed. The reading for the Northeast fell by 3 points to 41 while readings for the Midwest and South rose by one point each with readings of 58 and 59 respectively. The reading for the West was unchanged at 67.

Low Mortgage Rates: Will the Fed Raise Rates in June?

In other housing related news, analysts’ predictions are mixed regarding whether or not the Federal Reserve will raise its target funds rate next month when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets. Uncertainties over the United Kingdom’s upcoming vote about leaving the European Union and mixed economic data appear likely to nix a rate increase, but improving labor markets could be a plus for a fed rate increase. Raising the federal funds rate would cause mortgage rates to rise and is considered a further concern for the gap between growing wages and rapidly rising home prices. 

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

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 21 2015Last week’s economic news included reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment along with weekly releases on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Retail sales jumped 1.30 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.30 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose from 0.40 percent growth in March to 0.80 percent growth in April. Both retail sales reports exceeded expectations. Growth in consumer spending suggests higher confidence in economic conditions and may lead potential homebuyers to consider buying rather than renting their homes.

Consumer sentiment jumped in May to a reading of 95.8 as compared to an expected reading of 89.5 and April’s reading of 89.0. This reading further supports easing of consumer concerns over current economic conditions and could bode well for housing markets as the peak sales season continues. May’s reading was the highest in nearly a year according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Housing markets received a boost as average mortgage rates reported by Freddie Mac fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.57 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five points lower at 2.81 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages.

In spite of good economic news, lower mortgage rates and higher consumer sentiment, new jobless claims jumped to a 14-month high of 294,000 new claims from the prior week’s reading of 274,000 new claims and expectations of 270,000 new claims. Analysts said this increase could indicate softening of labor markets. Putting last week’s urge in claims in perspective, new claims remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for 62 consecutive weeks, which is the longest period since 1973.

Labor laws in New York State likely influenced the jump in claims as certain school workers are allowed to file for unemployment benefits during spring break. A strike by some telecommunications workers likely contributed to the abrupt rise in new jobless claims. Analysts noted that New York allows striking employees replaced by their employers while on strike to collect unemployment benefits, and that new claims were near historically low levels in all other states.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Monthly reports on inflation are also expected.The National Association of Realtors® will release its report on existing home sales. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 9, 2016

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Other economic news included reports on construction spending, public and private sector employment and national unemployment.

Construction Spending Grows in March

The Commerce Department reported that the growth rate for construction spending fell in March to 0.30 percent/Analysts expected a reading of 0.70 percent based on February’s upwardly revised growth rate of 1.0 percent. Construction spending was propelled by a 1.50 percent increase in residential construction spending; this is good news for would-be home buyers who’ve been shut out of the market due to high demand and low inventories of available homes.

Housing market analysts have repeatedly said that new home construction is the answer to short supplies of homes and high buyer demand. Year-over-year, construction spending is up 8.0 percent overall; residential construction spending grew by 7.60 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Dip

Average mortgage rates were lower last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.61 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 2.86 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped six basis points to an average of 2.80 percent.

While any drop in mortgage rates is welcomed by home buyers, the high demand for homes continues to drive prices up and has raised concerns about affordability of single-family homes in many communities.

Jobs Growth Slows

The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent in April, but job growth slowed in public and private sectors. ADP reported private sector jobs increased by 156,000 jobs as compared to 194,000 jobs added in March. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Non-Farm Payrolls increased by 160.000 jobs as compared to expectations of 203,000 jobs added and March’s reading of 208,000 jobs added. Non-Farm payrolls measure public and private sector job growth.

New jobless claims rose by 17,000 to 274,000 new claims, but remained below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims for 61 consecutive weeks. Analysts projected that new claims would grow by 265,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 257,000 new claims. The less volatile four-week rolling average of new jobless claims indicated that 258,000 new claims were filed. The labor force participation rate dropped from 65 percent to 63 percent in March. Retiring baby boomers contributed to some but not all of this workforce decline.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with a report on consumer sentiment.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 25, 2016

What's Ahead In Mortgage News

Last week’s economic releases included Existing Home Sales, Commerce Department Releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released according to their weekly schedule.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Firm in April

According to April’s National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, home builder confidence held steady with a reading of 58 for the third consecutive month. Analysts viewed April’s reading as a sign of steady expansion for home building, but builders noted concerns over labor shortages. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that builders were “cautiously optimistic” concerning housing market conditions.

The National Association of Realtors® reported a jump in sales of previously owned homes in March. The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales rose to 5.33 million and surpassed expectations of 5.30 million sales and February’s reading of 5.07 million sales of pre-owned homes.Mr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that demand is increasing and noted that the national average home price increased more than twice as fast as average wages.

In other housing-related reports, the Commerce department reported slower growth in housing starts, which reached 1.089 million starts in March. Analysts expected 1.170 million starts based on March’s reading of 1.194 housing starts. Building permits were also lower with 1.086 million building permits issued as compared to 1.177 million building permits issued in March.

National Association of Realtors®: Sales of PreOwned Homes Exceed Expectations

March sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million sales against predictions of 5.30 million sales and February’s reading of 5.07 million sales. While March sales of pre-owned homes coincide with the approaching peak home selling season, high demand for homes and low supplies of homes for sale could slow sales. Inventories of available homes are currently at a 4.5 month supply; a six month supply of available homes indicates a normal reading for available homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Lowest Since 1973

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for last week’s average mortgage rates. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point higher at 3.59 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.85 percent while the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 2.81 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since 1973 with a reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 265,000 new claims filed based on the prior week’s reading of 253,000 new claims filed. Strong labor markets can be an incentive to home buyers to move up to larger homes or transition from renting to owning, but short supplies of available homes and rapidly rising home prices present obstacles. First-time buyers account for approximately 30 percent of home sales; their participation could diminish unless available homes increase and demand for homes eases.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices along with new and pending home sales reports. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 18, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 18, 2016

Last week’s scheduled economic releases included reports on retail sales, inflation and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a limited program for reducing principal on eligible mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This program is intended to resolve remaining “underwater” mortgages on homes worth less than their current mortgage amounts.

Retail Sales Fall, Inflation Rises

Retail sales fell in March to close out a weaker than expected first quarter 2016. Retail sales fell 0.30 percent in March as compared to expectations of a 0.10 percent increase and February’s flat reading. Analysts said consumers were reluctant to spend in spite of improving job markets and household finances. Retail sales rose by 1.70 percent year-over-year, a reading categorized as “weak” by analysts.

Hiring for lower wages and fewer hours worked was seen as contributing to consumers’ reluctance to spend, especially on big-ticket items including vehicles. Retail sales excluding auto sales were 0.20 percent higher than in February, but did not meet the expected reading of 0.50 percent and incrementally exceeded February’s reading, which was unchanged from January.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent in March against expectations of 0.20 percent and February’s negative reading of -0.70 percent. Core inflation readings that exclude volatile food and energy sectors mirrored the Consumer Price Index with 0.10 percent growth against an expected reading of 0.20 percent and February’s Core Consumer Price Index reading of 0.30 percent. Lagging inflation is largely attributed to lower fuel prices, but this doesn’t impact the Core CPI reading.

Fed Beige Book: Economy Recovering at Modest to Moderate Rate

According to the Federal Beige Book report for March, business contacts surveyed by the Federal Reserve suggested that increases in wages and oil prices should bump up the economy, but the Fed expects economic expansion to increase at a “modest to moderate” rate for the long term. Employers noted difficulties in hiring for low and high skilled jobs in some areas, and retailers were optimistic about sales for the rest of 2016.

In general, the Fed has adopted a cautious approach to raising its target federal funds rate. Fed Chair Janet Yellen repeatedly cited concerns over global risks for scaling back Fed rate increases from four to two in 2016.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported the lowest mortgage rates for 2016; rates were also their lowest since May 2013. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell one basis point to 3.58 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 2.86 percent. The average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also slipped two basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were 0.50, 0.40 and 0.50 percent respectively.

In unrelated mortgage news, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a limited program for reducing mortgage balances for eligible mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that exceed home values. Mortgage lenders will notify eligible homeowners by December 31.While limited in scope, this program is expected to prevent foreclosure of eligible properties that cannot be sold or refinanced.

Jobless claims fell to 253,000 new claims last week, which was lower than the expected reading of 270,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 266,000 new claims. Coupled with the Beige Book findings that employers are facing shortages of qualified workers, this low reading appears to further support improving economic conditions.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association’s Home Builders Housing Market Index along with Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. The National Association of Realtors® will also release its Existing Home Sales Report.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 4, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 4, 2016Last week’s economic calendar was full of new releases including pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and construction spending. Labor related reports including ADP payrolls, federal Non-farm payrolls, and the national unemployment rate were also released along with reports on consumer confidence and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Case-Shiller: January Home Prices Up 5.7% Year-Over-Year

According to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for January, home prices increased by 5.70 percent year-over-year. The West led price increases with double-digit price gains posted for San Francisco, California, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Denver, Colorado also posted a double-digit gain, but dropped its recent lead for metro areas tracked by the 20-City Index.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported better than expected growth in February pending home sales. Low mortgage rates pushed pending home sales to their highest rate in seven months. Pending home sales rose 3.50 percent in February, which exceeded the expected reading of 1.80 percent and January’s reading of 03.00 percent. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that February’s reading indicated that housing markets may be recovering after choppy winter sales. Mr. Yun also noted a “slight uptick in inventory,” which is good news for housing markets currently experiencing low inventories of homes for several months or more.

S&P Index Committee Chair David M Blitzer echoed Mr. Yun’s remarks about the impact of low inventories of homes for sale. While higher home prices driven by low inventories benefit home sellers, there comes a point where potential buyers cannot find and / or afford available homes. Constructing new homes is the only immediate solution to increasingly limited supplies of homes for sale.

Construction spending slipped in February from January’s upwardly revised $1.150 trillion on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. February’s reading was $1.144 trillion. Construction spending fell 0.50 percent as compared to analysts’ expectations of 0.20 percent. Year-over-year, construction spending was 10.30 percent higher in February.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rates survey reported mixed results last week. The average rate for a 30-yar fixed rate mortgage held steady at 3.71 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose by two basis points to 2.98 percent and the rate for 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.90 percent. Average discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.50, 0.40 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

New unemployment claims rose to 276,000 against an expected reading of 270,000 new claims and 265,000 new claims the prior week.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported fewer jobs created in March than for February. 215,000 jobs were added in March as compared to the expected reading of 203,000 new jobs and February’s reading 245,000 new jobs. ADP reported a lower reading of 200,000 private sector jobs added as compared to expectations of 205,000 jobs added and February’s reading of 205,000 private sector jobs added. The national unemployment rate ticked up to 5.0 percent over February’s reading of 4.90 percent.

Consumer confidence rose over two percent in March with a reading of 96.20 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 94.20 based on February’s reading of 94.00.

What’s Ahead This Week

Economic reports scheduled this week include job openings and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 28, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 28, 2016Increasing Home Prices Good For Sellers

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported lower sales of pre-owned homes in February. Would-be buyers were discouraged by rapidly rising home prices. Short supplies of available homes sidelined potential buyers as higher home prices and cash buyers squeeze out buyers who need mortgages to buy homes. Multiple offers resulting in bidding wars have also deterred buyers in high demand markets. According to NAR’s February report, sales of existing homes fell 7.10 percent to their lowest level since November.

NAR has predicted that rapidly rising home prices would eventually damage housing markets. While analysts weren’t certain whether February’s report indicated a temporary lull due to weather and anomalies related to new closing regulations and seasonal influences, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “The main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers.”

During the housing bubble, buyers jumped into the market as speculators or to buy before home prices increased beyond their reach. NAR surveyed renters last week and found that the percentage of renters who believed that it’s currently a good time to buy a home decreased.

Respondents to Fannie Mae’s February Home Purchase Sentiment Index forecasted a 1.70 percent increase in home prices year-over-year. One year ago, respondents expected home prices to increase by 2.50 percent year-over-year. This may suggest that home prices are cooling. This can be expected as the number of buyers declines as home prices become increasingly unaffordable.

New Home Sales Up in February

New home rose in February according to the Commerce Department. Based on a revised reading of 502,000 new home sales in January, February’s reading was 2.00 percent higher than January’s reading, but was 6.10 percent lower than for February 2015.

Builders have held back on increasing construction due to concerns about ups and downs in the economic recovery. Short supplies of labor and available land have also kept home builders from meeting current demand.

Mortgage Rates Trend Lower

According to Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.71 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 2.96 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable  rate mortgage fell four basis points to 2.89 percent.

New jobless claims rose to 265,000 from the prior week’s reading of 259,000 new claims. Last week’s reading matched analyst expectations.

Whats Ahead This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on inflation, pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and government and private sector employment data. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 14, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 14, 2016Last week’s economic news included Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The City of Detroit also announced a program to help would-be buyers purchase homes that do not qualify for mortgage loans due to severe damage.

Fannie Mae: Home Buyer Sentiment Index Rises

Fannie Mae’s Home Buyer Sentiment Index (HBSI) gained 1.20 percent for an overall reading of 82.70 percent for February. The index reading is calculated using responses to several questions contained in Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey. HBSI components include consumer responses to questions about whether it’s a good or bad time to sell or buy a home, consumer expectations concerning whether home prices and mortgage rates will rise, whether respondents expected to keep or lose their jobs, and consumer outlook for their income to significantly increase year-over-year.

The HBSI is designed to assess consumer attitudes about housing markets and their decisions about buying a home.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose two basis points to 2.96 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims dropped to a five-month low last week with a reading of 259,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new claims. New claims readings under 300,000 new claims indicate a healthy labor market; new claims readings have held below the 300,000 benchmark for more than a year. The lowest reading of 256,000 new jobless claims occurred in October 2015.

City of Detroit Addresses Problems with Ravaged Homes

The City of Detroit announced a program designed to facilitate the purchase and rehabilitation of vacant and damaged homes that do not meet appraisal requirements for traditional home loans. While many markets have recovered from the Great Recession, housing markets such as Detroit have languished due to the lack of financing options. The program offers mortgages to cover the home purchase and second mortgages up to $75,000 for repairs and renovation. Program administrators say they plan to issue 1000 loans over the next three years. This type of program may help struggling housing markets recover while providing homeownership opportunities to those who could not otherwise afford to buy a home.

What’s Ahead This Week

This week’s scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement after its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will also hold a press conference.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 7, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 7, 2016Week in Review

Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on pending home sales, construction spending and several jobs related readings including ADP Payrolls, the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.64 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were consistent at 0.50 percent for all three types of home loans.

Weekly jobless claims also rose to 278,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of $272,000 new jobless claims. While an increase in new unemployment claims may seem discouraging, new claims for unemployment remain near pre-recession lows.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims dropped by 1750 claims to 270,250 and reached its lowest reading in three months. Analysts view the four-week reading as more reliable than week-to-week readings that can be volatile.

Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending

In other news, pending home sales fell by 2.50 percent as compared to December’s reading. Analysts expected an increase in pending sales of 0.50 percent; December’s reading was 0.10 percent higher than for November. Pending home sales represent sales contracts that have not yet closed and are considered an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity.

Home sales have been impacted in recent months by a shortage of available homes; this creates a backlog of would-be buyers who can’t find homes they want to buy and also causes rapidly escalating home prices in desirable areas. Bidding wars and cash sales can sideline buyers who can’t pay cash or are whose offers are outbid.

Analysts say that new home construction is a key component of easing the housing shortage. Construction spending increased by 1.50 percent in January, but month-to-month spending for residential projects was flat in January. Spending for residential projects was 7.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Labor Reports Reflect Stronger Economy

Federal and private sector reports on jobs indicate that job growth continues. The Department of Commerce reported that Non-Farm Payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs in February, which was higher than expectations of 195,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 172,000 new jobs. According to ADP, which tracks private sector payrolls, 214,000 new jobs were created in February as compared to expectations of 185,000 new jobs and January’s reading of 193,000 new jobs.

Improving jobs markets are a positive indicator for housing markets as stable employment is important to home buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgages. The National Unemployment Rate remained stable in February with a reading of 4.90 percent; the expected reading and prior month’s reading were also 4.90 percent.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the NFIB Small Business Index and February’s Federal Budget along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.