During a reasonably quiet week, global concerns caused investors to seek relatively safer assets. Stronger than expected US economic data had little impact. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.
Worried about the pace of global economic growth and unrest in many regions, investors shifted to relatively safer assets, including US government guaranteed mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Protests and riots have been seen in Spain and Greece as a result of austerity measures. Tensions have been rising in the Middle East. Questions remain about economic growth in China. Strong results for this week’s US Treasury auctions and rising MBS prices reflect the global appetite for US bonds, which is positive for mortgage rates.
Weekly Jobless Claims dropped sharply to 339K, well below the consensus of 370K, and the lowest level in more than four years. Combined with last week’s decline in the Unemployment Rate to the lowest level since January 2009, this decrease could be viewed as very positive news for the labor market. The enthusiasm was muted, however, by questions about temporary data reporting issues which suggest that the improvement will not be seen in future results.
This week, Retail Sales will be released on Monday. Retail Sales account for about 70% of economic activity. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most closely watched monthly inflation report, will come out on Tuesday. CPI looks at the price change for those finished goods which are sold to consumers. Industrial Production will also come out on Tuesday. Housing Starts will be released on Wednesday. Existing Home Sales will come out on Friday. Leading Indicators, Philly Fed, and Empire State will round out a busy schedule.
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