Last week’s economic news includes several factors that drove U.S. mortgage rates lower.
The Bank of Japan announced that it would increase its purchase of bonds by $1.4 trillion over the next two years.
This news caused yields on Japanese bonds to fall, which made U.S. bonds more appealing to international investors, that in turn increased MBS prices and caused mortgage rates to fall.
Bumpy Employment Numbers Support Lower Interest Rates
Other significant economic news involves an unexpected drop in the number of new jobs created last month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Nonfarm Payrolls Report issued Friday indicated that 88,000 jobs were added in March, which fell considerably short of the expected 190,000 jobs added as well as the 236,000 jobs added in February.
Average hourly earnings remained flat against February, which indicates another stall in U.S. economic growth.
Expanding employment sectors for March included professional and business services and healthcare, while retail jobs decreased.
Jobless claims increased last week in concurrence with lower than expected jobs added for March.
New jobless claims came in at 385,000 and were higher than expectations of 345,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s jobless claims of 357,000.
The monthly unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent, but this isn’t encouraging news.
According to the BLS, the unemployment rate fell due to workers leaving the work force instead of workers finding jobs.
Next week, Treasury Auctions will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release FOMC minutes.
Fed Continues Monthly Bond Purchases
Investors and analysts review the minutes for predicting future economic developments and also for gauging the Fed’s sentiment about how or if changes should be made to the current quantitative easing program (QE).
The current QE program involves the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in bonds and MBS is intended to keep long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.
Retail Sales will be released Friday, and as indicated by falling job numbers in the retail sectors, analysts are expecting no growth for March in either report.
Global news concerning North Korea and the European Union economic situation could also move U.S. markets up or down depending on the nature of the news.
While not encouraging in terms of an economic recovery, these events show that the recovery is proceeding with ups and downs; this doesn’t provide investors a clear picture and may cause them to seek safe haven in bonds.
The good news for Chapel Hill homeowners is uncertainty and low expectations of the financial markets typically help keep mortgage rates lower.