A relatively quiet week of economic news yielded minimal movement in the interest rate market and some positive movement in the equities markets. Here’s a recap of some of the news items that we were paying attention to:
The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report for February was released last week, and the numbers were relatively unchanged from the January report. There were 5.133 million job openings on the last business day of February, with a job openings rate of 3.5%. Although this was only a slight increase from January’s 4.965 million job openings, February boasted the highest level of job openings since January 2001. There were 4.916 million hires in February, a rate of 3.5%, which was barely changed from January. There was also little variation in the number of quits and layoffs in February. There were 2.7 million quits during the month, a rate of 1.9%, and there were 1.6 million layoffs, a rate of 1.1%.
In the week ending April 4, Jobless claims rose slightly by 14,000 to 281,000 after a decline of 21,000 in the week prior. Despite the increase in claims, the four-week average moved lower for the third straight week, down by 3,000 to 282,250 claims. This is more than 20,000 below the reading from a month ago. The continued downward motion of the four-week average hints at an improved April employment report.
Consumer confidence continues to improve as Americans begin to view the US economy in a more favorable light. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index ascended to a level of 47.9 in the week ending April 5, the highest level since May 2007. Americans’ attitudes regarding the economy are the most optimistic in nine weeks.
This week should prove to be more exciting with readings on Retail Sales, inflation reports, Housing Starts, Beige Book and Leading Economic Indicators. We will also hear from a number of the Federal Reserve regional Presidents.
Mortgage News & Rates
Mortgage applications for home purchases are up for the third straight week. The week ending April 3 showed a 7.0% increase in purchase mortgage applications, now at the highest level since July 2013. The year-over-year index is up 12.0%. The refinancing index had been very strong over the last couple of weeks, but fell 3.0% in the latest report. Low rates continue to be a key factor in the increasing number of mortgage applications.
Nationally, mortgage rates are dropping once again, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. The average rate for a 30-year conventional loan is at 3.66%, down from the April 2 rate of 3.70%, the lowest rate in nearly 10 weeks.
Local mortgage rates remained relatively unchanged over the past week. The 30-year fixed APR increased slightly by about 17 basis points, while the remaining conventional loan programs saw no change. Most of the government loan programs also remained static, with the exception of the FHA 203(k) program, which dropped by only 2 basis points. Visit our Mortgage Rate Update page for more information.
As rates remain on the low end, now is a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance! Give us a call at 805.543.LOAN for a free, customized rate quote.