Compliments of


Mixed Employment Data


In the face of continued stock market volatility and major economic data, mortgage rates showed surprisingly little movement. For the second straight week, mortgage rates ended with little change. 


Friday's Employment report came in close to the forecasts overall. A small shortfall in job gains was offset by stronger than expected wage gains and a decline in the unemployment rate. 


Against a consensus forecast of 220K, the economy added 173K jobs in August, but upward revisions to prior months added another 44K. The unemployment rate declined from 5.3% to 5.1%, the lowest level since April 2008. It was 6.1% a year ago. Average hourly earnings, a proxy for wage growth, were 2.2% higher than a year ago. 


Investors had been looking to the Employment report to provide more clarity on whether the Fed will begin to raise the federal funds rate at the September 17 meeting. The on target data provided little guidance, however, and investors remain divided. One reason is that recent comments from Fed officials have spanned the spectrum from fully supportive to strongly against. There is broad agreement that the performance of the labor market is on track to match the Fed's conditions for a rate hike. Inflation, however, is much more debatable. Core inflation has held far below the Fed's target level of 2.0%, and potentially slower economic growth around the world has reduced expectations for future inflation. 


Next week will be a light one for economic reports. The JOLTS report, measuring job openings and labor turnover rates, will be released on Wednesday. The Producer Price Index (PPI), which focuses on the increase in prices of "intermediate" goods and services used by companies to produce finished products, will come out on Friday. Import Prices and Consumer Sentiment will round out the schedule. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Mortgage markets will be closed on Monday in observance of Labor Day.


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All material Copyright © Ress No. 1, LTD (DBA MBSQuoteline) and may not be reproduced without permission.