Economic Update 9/5/14
August Job gains slip to 142,000, fewest of 2014. Job reports for August came out this week with some disappointing number. U.S. employers added 142,000 jobs in August as payroll growth slowed significantly after six months of strong gains, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell to 6.1% from 6.2% in July, the Labor Department said. Until August, employers had added 200,000-plus jobs for six straight months — the longest stretch since 1997. Last month, businesses added 134,000 jobs, with professional and business services and healthcare driving the increase. Federal, state and local governments added 8,000. Job gains for June and July were revised down by a total 28,000. June’s was revised to 267,000 from 298,000 and July’s to 212,000 from 209,000.While the August tally was disappointing, it could get revised upward in future months’ reports.
Average Mortgage Rates Hold Steady this week at 15 month lows. The average 30-year U.S. mortgage rate last week remained at a 52-week low of 4.10 percent for the third straight week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac also said Thursday the average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, slipped to 3.24 percent from 3.25 percent last week. At its 52-week low of 4.10 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is down from 4.53 percent at the start of the year. Rates have fallen even though the Federal Reserve has been trimming its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low. The purchases are set to end in October. The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for a 15-year mortgage fell to 0.5 point from 0.6 point. The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage was stable at 2.97 percent. The fee stayed at 0.5 point. For a one-year ARM, the average rate edged up to 2.40 percent from 2.39 percent. The fee dipped to 0.4 point from 0.5 point.
The average rate for a standard 30-year fixed loan with a 20% down payment has not been above 4.15% since mid-June. Mortgage professionals said solid borrowers who are willing to pay 1% of the loan amount in upfront discount points can lock in 30-year fixed rates for less than 4%. The low rates and higher home prices have made it easier for some homeowners who missed the sub-4% rates in 2012 and early 2013 to refinance their home loans now.
Mortgage applications increased slightly from a week earlier, as refinances hit their highest level since March. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly composite index found that mortgage loan application volume rose 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the period ending Aug. 29. The week before, the index was up 2.8%. Refinance activity increased 1% week over week and now represents 57% of total applications. Meanwhile, the purchase index decreased 2% on a weekly basis and accounts for 35% of all application volume. The other 8% of total applications were adjustable-rate mortgages.
The Benchmark US 10 year Treasury Note yield edged up slightly to close the week at 2.46% it was 2.35% last Friday.
The Dow closed higher this week at 17,137.36, up from last Friday’s close of 17,098.45. The S&P closed at a record high for the year at 2,007.71, up from last Friday’s close of 2,003.37. The Nasdaq finishes strong this week closing at 4,582.90, up from last Friday’s close of 4,580.27.
Case-Shiller Redo Shows Less Severe U.S. Home-Price Slump. The collapse in U.S. home prices that stoked the worst recession since the Great Depression wasn’t quite as severe as initially estimated, according to data from S&P/Case-Shiller. Property values nationally fell 26 percent from the February 2007 peak to the December 2011 trough, not 34 percent as previously reported, revised data showed last week. The index will now be issued monthly rather than quarterly. Nationally, home values have climbed 19.4 percent since touching bottom almost three years ago, the new data show. They’re now 11.6 percent off the prior peak, compared with a previously estimated shortfall of 18.6 percent through the first quarter.
The Federal Reserve Beige Book was released September 3. It showed that the economy expanded in all districts across the nation from the previous period. Consumer spending rose in all districts from slight to moderate. Real Estate sales held steady or expanded throughout the nation. Loan demand rose in 8 districts and held steady in 1. This was all positive news.
On a negative note, wages that have shown to be flat for the last 3 years adjusted for inflation from 3 years ago, actually dropped in all income levels except the top 10% income levels. At the median household levels wages actually dropped 4%.
We are seeing increased activity this week after a slower week or so at the end of August. It seems like now that people have returned from vacation and school has started, open escrows have increased!