Economic update for the week ending January 28, 2017

DOW breaks 20,000 – All three major indexes hit record highs again this week before dropping slightly on Friday after a very disappointing GDP report was released. Investors seemed to shrug off the report and analysts expressed optimism for the economy in 2017 despite the poor showing in the final quarter of 2016. The DOW Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 20,093.78, up from last week’s close of 19,827.25. The S&P 500 ended the week at 2,294.69, up from its close of 2,271.32 last week. The NASDAQ closed the week at 5,660.78, up from last week’s close of 5,555.33.

U.S. Treasury Bond yields – The 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond closed the week yielding 2.49%, unchanged from 2.48% last Friday. The 30-year Treasury Bond yield closed the week at 3.06%, also unchanged from 3.05% last week. Mortgage rates follow bond yields, so we watch treasury bonds closely.

Mortgage rates – The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey released on January 19, 2017, revealed that average mortgage rates from lenders surveyed for the most popular mortgage products were as follows: The 30-year fixed rate average was 4.19%. The 15-year fixed average rate was 3.30%. The 5/1 ARM average rate was 3.20%.

Economy slows in final quarter of 2016 – The U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the value of all goods and services, grew at a 1.9% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2016. This followed a 3.5% rate in the third quarter, which was the largest gain in 2 years. The first half of the year showed the expansion had stalled. It was widely felt that the economy had picked up when the third quarter results showed growth had picked up, but this preliminary report, the first of 3, surprised experts who were expecting at least a 2.5% gain. Analysts quickly came out and expressed optimism for 2017. Investors did not react much by the report and stocks fell just slightly from record levels. For the entire year GDP grew just 1.9% in 2016. The report also showed that consumer spending increased 2.5% and inflation was very tame.