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Job Growth Surges


Stronger than expected US economic data was negative for mortgage rates this week. Bond friendly comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) helped limit the losses, however. Mortgage rates ended higher, reversing the nice improvement in rates seen during Thanksgiving week. 


Against a consensus forecast of 230K, the economy added a massive 321K jobs in November, which was the largest monthly increase since January 2012. Upward revisions to prior months added another 44K. The economy has added an average of 224K jobs per month over the past twelve months and is on track in 2014 for the fastest yearly pace of job creation in 15 years. 


The Unemployment Rate was flat at 5.8%. Average Hourly Earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were 2.1% higher than one year ago. This report exceeded investor expectations nearly across the board, raising future inflationary pressures and pushing mortgage rates higher. 


In contrast to the US, economic growth in Europe has stalled. This has raised expectations that the ECB will begin to buy sovereign bonds, similar to the recently completely US quantitative easing (QE) program. The expected added demand for bonds from the ECB has caused bond yields around the world to decline in recent months. 


However, ECB officials are divided about QE, and the decision keeps getting pushed farther into the future. Notably, the Germans are opposed. At Thursday's press conference, ECB President Draghi said that the ECB intends to take action as necessary and that it will do so even without unanimous consent. However, he also deflated hopes for quick policy changes by saying that the ECB would not consider QE until the end of the first quarter of 2015. The net impact of his comments was a small improvement in mortgage rates. 


Next week, the JOLTS report, measuring job openings and labor turnover rates, will be released on Tuesday. The biggest report of the week will be Retail Sales on Thursday. Retail Sales account for roughly 70% of economic activity. The Producer Price Index (PPI), which focuses on the increase in prices of "intermediate" goods used by companies to produce finished products, will come out on Friday. In addition, there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.


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