Despite a wide range of major economic news, it was a very quiet week for mortgage rates. The key labor market report, the inflation data, and the Fed meeting caused little reaction. Mortgage rates ended the week nearly unchanged.
The economy added 164,000 jobs in April, below the consensus for an increase of 190,000. However, upward revisions added 30,000 jobs to the results for prior months, bringing the net gains very close to the expected levels. The unemployment rate declined from 4.1% to 3.9%, below the consensus of 4.0%, and the lowest level since December 2000.
There are two factors which influence the unemployment rate, and the decline was mostly due to workers leaving the labor force rather than job gains, so it was not viewed as a sign of strength. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, fell slightly short of expectations. They were 2.6% higher than a year ago, the same annual rate of increase as last month. Overall, the modest weakness in wage growth tilted investors to view the report as a little weaker than expected.
As widely expected, the Fed made no change to the federal funds rate on Wednesday. The statement released after the meeting noted that inflation has moved "close to 2 percent" and that officials expect it to run near the Fed's "2 percent objective over the medium term." The meeting caused little change in investor expectations for the pace of future rate hikes.
The Fed's comments regarding inflation were supported by the most recent reading of their favored inflation indicator, which matched investor expectations. The core PCE price index released on Monday revealed that inflation in March increased at an annual rate of 1.9%, up from an annual rate of 1.6% last month. This was the highest reading since February 2017.
Looking ahead, it will be a light week for economic data. The JOLTS report, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates, will come out on Wednesday. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will come out on Thursday. CPI is a widely followed monthly inflation report that looks at the price change for goods and services. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
source: Mortgage Time Newsletter