On Friday, July 27, the Commerce Department announced that the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell to 1.5 percent growth in the second quarter. GDP measures the market value of a country’s goods and services to quantify strength of its economic production. While the 1.5 percent figure still shows growth, it is down from the 2.0 percent pace in the first quarter, and well down from the target 3.0 percent rate that would reduce unemployment significantly.
Despite the bad news, U.S. financial markets took the news in stride. Poor data about the economy, employment, and consumer spending have caused investors to speculate that the Federal Reserve could take more drastic measures to stimulate the economy, such as another round of quantitative easing. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank has discussed taking more drastic steps to help keep the European economy stable. With the hope that more powerful Central Bank intervention could be imminent, the Dow has remained over 13,000.
This week, interest rates largely remained unchanged. The APR for rates at the lowest end offered (for the 30-year fixed, 3.250 percent) rose slightly, but the others remained steady and near yearly lows. We mark the 30-year fixed rate at 3.250 percent (3.311 percent APR) or 3.375 percent (3.364 percent APR). The 15-year fixed is at 2.750 percent (2.773 percent).*