Mortgage rates edged lower last week, buoyed by a weak employment report for March.
After shedding 80,000 jobs last month, the number of working Americans is lower by 232,000 so far this year.
Many pundits are claiming these figures are proof of a U.S. economic recession but it’s important to keep the data in perspective.
According to the government, there are 153 million people in the workforce.
The 232,000 terminated workers, therefore, represent a fractional 0.15 percent of the workforce. This is a very small percentage.
This week, there isn’t much new data for markets to digest but we’ll want to keep an eye on some important events.
The first is Monday’s Consumer Credit report. As the Federal Reserve has lowered the Fed Funds Rate, Prime Rate has fallen, too, and that means that credit card interest rates are down.
The Consumer Credit report will show whether Americans are spending the country out of a recession. Ballooning national debt levels should cause mortgage rates to rise because more spending on the consumer level increases the likelihood of inflation later this year.
The second is Tuesday’s release of the Federal Open Market Committee’s March meeting minutes.
We know what the Fed said and did after its last meeting; the minutes, though, give us the “Behind the Scenes” look at the debate. There shouldn’t be much in the minutes that we haven’t already heard, but if there is, expect mortgage rates to swing wildly in response.
Other than that, there’s not much doing this week. A few Federal Reserve speakers will be out and Friday we’ll get to see the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey.
The biggest threat to mortgage rates this week is ongoing news of financial stability (or instability) with large banks and investment houses.
Mortgage markets do not like it when banks go insolvent so be aware of that type of news if it surfaces because it can change the direction of mortgage rates in an instant.