Both stocks and mortgage rates remained on a downward trend this week. Due to investors flooding the U.S bond market, current mortgage rates are not far from the record lows seen in 2012.
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The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for December was strong as job openings surged to 5.607 million, up from a revised 5.346 million in November. The job openings rate increased by 2 tenths to 3.8 percent. The quits rate rose 1 tenth to 2.1 percent, an indication that workers are confident in moving up and into better job opportunities.
Vehicle sales helped lift retails sales to a respectable 0.2 percent gain in January. The central retail sales reading, which excludes gasoline stations, is up 0.4 percent with a year-over-year gain of 4.5 percent. Good job gains and lower gas prices have contributed to steady growth over the last several months.
Last week in the economy:
- Mortgage rates (the national average) declined 0.05% (5 basis points).
- The purchase index of MBA Mortgage Applications continue to trend higher, up 0.2 percent in the February 5 week. The year-over-year rate is plus 25 percent. The refinance index also increased by 9 percent.
- Initial jobless claims having risen to 6-month highs and raising doubts surrounding the strength of the January labor market fell back again this week by 16,000 to a much lower-than-expected level of 269,000. This is the lowest reading since mid-December.
- Consumer comfort remains strong despite rattling in the financial markets. Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index increased 3 tenths in the February 7 week to 44.5.
- While consumer comfort held steady this week, consumer sentiment fell 1.3 points to a lower-than-expected level of 90.7. The level fell due to a decline in the expectations component, down 1.7 points.
What's on the economic calendar for the week of February 15, 2016:
Monday: Markets Closed – Presidents Day
Tuesday: Housing Market Index
Wednesday: Housing Starts, MBA Mortgage Applications, FOMC Minutes
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Consumer Price Index
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