Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Decrease, Consumer Confidence Remains High

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/10/17 11:07 AM

Topics: Economy Mortgage Rates

In this week’s economic review, the gap between job openings and hiring narrowed slightly and consumer sentiment and spending eased. Mortgage rates fell minimally while the refinancing share of mortgage activity fell to a 7-year low.

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Job openings saw a marginal drop in December down from 5.522 million to 5.501 million, though the gap between openings and hiring remains wide, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The quit rate, which is an indication of worker confidence, dropped from 2.1 percent (where it’s stayed for the past six months) to 2.0 percent.

February consumer sentiment fell back from January’s decade high but remains very high at 95.7. The expectations component of the report is the main contributing factor to the near-3 point drop from January. The expectations index eased nearly 5 points while the current conditions index remained steady at a reading of 111.2.

Americans’ daily self-reports of spending remained strong in January despite dropping to an average of $88 from December’s $105, according to the Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure. Though the first month of the year is often the lowest month for consumer spending, January’s reading is the highest consumer spending average for the month of a January since 2008.

This week in the economy:

  • The 30-year fixed-rate eased slightly as of February 9 with the average at 4.17 percent with 0.5 points, according to Freddie Mac.
  • Purchase applications rose a seasonally adjusted 2.0 percent in the week of February 3, according to MBA Mortgage Applications. Refinancing activity fell 1.5 percent to its lowest share of mortgage activity since June 2009.
  • The Labor Market Conditions Index, an experimental index compiled by the Federal Reserve, climbed 1.3 points in January following a revision in December from minus 0.3 to plus 0.6. This marks the eighth straight month of positive scores for the index.
  • Initial jobless claims fell 12,000 in the February 4 week to 234,000, marking the lowest reading since November and one of the lowest on record, according to Bloomberg. The 4-week average fell 3,750 to 244,250, which is the lowest average since 1973.
  • The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index pressed even higher in the February 5 week after a sharp rise the week before. A 0.6-point rise pushed the index to 47.2, which is a new post-election high.

What’s on economic calendar for the week of February 13, 2017:

  • Wednesday – MBA Mortgage Applications, Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales, Housing Market Index
  • Thursday – Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, Housing Starts

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