Thursday – February 22
Mortgage rates continued to edge higher in the latest week due in part to a growing economy and a strong labor market. Positive economic news tends to push Bond prices lower, yields higher and mortgage rates higher. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose for the 7th consecutive week to 4.40%, the highest since April 2014. The rate does come with an average point of 0.5 added on top. Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders.
Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits continue to hover near the bell-bottom lows of the early 1970s as the labor market is hitting on most cylinders. The Labor Department reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims declined by 7,000 in the latest week to 222,000. It was the 155th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 mark, which is associated with a strong labor market. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, fell 2,250 to 226,000.
The minutes from the January Federal Open Market Committee meeting were released to the investing public and the headlines did cause a bit of a stir. The Fed minutes revealed that members are committed to raising the short-term Fed Funds Rate several more times in 2018. Most Fed members also believe that inflation will pick up this year. “Members agreed that the strengthening in the near-term economic outlook increased the likelihood that a gradual upward trajectory of the federal funds rate would be appropriate,” the Fed said in the minutes.