Mortgage Rates Begin to Stabilize; November's Employment Shows a Net 4K Gain
January 11, 2010 - Mortgage rates began the New Year stabilizing after a slow four-week upward climb. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that December's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 10%. Market participants are tracking employment as a rebound in jobs is seen as essential in any sustained recovery.
Despite the 85,000 jobs lost last month, November's employment numbers were revised to show a net gain of 4,000 jobs. November was the first month of job growth in two years. Other economic indicators also pointed to an economy that is beginning to gain some footing. The ISM Manufacturing Index grew at its fastest pace since April 2006. In its fifth consecutive monthly expansion, the index rose to 55.9 % from the 53.6 % recorded in November. Additionally, factory orders increased 1.1% to 365.30 billion.
This week contains plenty of data that could push mortgage rates either way. The government's current program of buying mortgage-backed securities is set to expire in March but there is talk that it may be extended and slowly phased out over the course of 2010 which would portend well for mortgage rates in the near and intermediate term. With private mortgage buyers still on shaky ground, this is welcome news if it comes to fruition. Other economic releases, such as Industrial Production data and the Consumer Price Index both released on Wednesday, could affect fixed income markets this week as well.