Last week’s scheduled economic readings were limited and included new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey. In other news, all types of mortgage applications rose by 2.30 percent this week as compared to the prior week.
Mortgage Rates Lower, Home Loan Applications Rise
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates for fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable mortgages; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped two basis points to 4.17 percent. Average rates for 15-year mortgages also dropped two basis points to 3.39 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates averaged 3.21 percent, which was also two basis points lower than the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for the three types of mortgages tracked in Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, this small drop in mortgage rates caused all types of mortgage applications to rise by 2.30 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Refinance applications rose two percent from the prior week, but remain 40 percent lower year-over-year. The dearth of refinancing applications was caused by two factors including many refinances were completed recently when rates were lower and homeowners currently discouraged by higher mortgage rates.
Weekly Jobless Claims Fall
Last week’s initial jobless claims fell to 234,000 as compared to expectations of 249,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims. This was the lowest reading since 1973 and when compared to the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, shows that the economy continues to strengthen. Last week’s reading was the second lowest since recovery from the recession got underway in 2009 and represented the 101st consecutive week that new jobless claims were lower than the 300,000 new claims benchmark. According to Labor Department data, this week’s reading sustained the longest-running consecutive period of new jobless claims below the benchmark level.
The four-week average of new jobless claims is viewed by analysts as less volatile than the week-to-week reading, but it showed similar results last week as it fell by 3750 new claims to 244,250 initial claims and reached the lowest level of new claims filed in 44 years.
Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.