SLOW AND STEADY WINS!

It’s been said that “slow and steady wins the race.” And
when it comes to the Jobs Report for November, it seems that the labor market
continues to improve at a gradual pace. Read on for the details…and what they
mean for home loan rates.


There was good news, as the headline number for job creations in November came
in at 120,000, with 140,000 private jobs offsetting government losses. What’s
more, some upward revisions to the two previous readings added 72,000 more jobs
than had been reported.

Perhaps even more important, Hourly Earnings grew by just 0.1% – a number
that suggests no threat of wage-based inflation. Remember, inflation is the arch
enemy of Bonds and home loan rates because when inflation rises, investors in
Bonds demand a higher yield to offset the lost buying power inflation imposes on
a fixed payment. And as home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, this would
mean home loan rates move higher. So the Hourly Earnings number was good news
for Bonds and home loan rates.

Catching the markets by surprise was a rather sharp decline in the
unemployment rate to 8.6%, the lowest unemployment rate we’ve since March of
2009. While this is good news on the one hand, part of the decline stems from
the fact that 315,000 people were removed from the workforce because they
totally gave up looking for work. And with 13.3 million Americans still out of
work, more improvement is certainly needed here.

Similarly, the labor participation rate (which is currently hovering at a
30-year low at 64) needs to move above 66 or it will be difficult for the
economy to grow fast enough to lower our budget deficit. In fact, last week Bond
ratings firm Fitch issued a stern warning to the US, saying that our AAA rating
will be in jeopardy if we don’t soon do something to rein in our own
ever-growing budget deficit.

 

It is good news that we’re seeing some slow and steady improvement in
the labor market…and coupling this with other recent positive economic signals,
means we are not near a recession at the moment. 
But our economic health
remains fragile, and any external shock from Europe could easily disrupt the
economic improvement we are seeing.

The bottom line is that the uncertainty out of Europe – and the prospect of
additional Mortgage Bond buying (QE3) from the Fed – should continue to support
Bonds and home loan rates as they will benefit from investors looking for a safe
haven for their money. However, it is also unlikely that Bonds and home loan
rates will improve much further. Inflation, while not yet a problem, is still
elevated…and if it continues to creep higher, this will limit any improvement

 

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