Market Forecast: JOLTS, Consumer Sentiment, Retail Sales
Mortgage rates trended downward last week. This week, economic reports of significance include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the consumer sentiment index, and retail sales report.
The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) is an assessment of the health of the labor market based on job vacancies, hires, and separations. JOLTS measures job market efficiency. A comparable openings to separations ratio means workers are confident that they will find a new job if they choose to leave their current position. In January, JOLTS reported 5.626 million job openings.
The consumer sentiment index is a survey of 500 households and their opinion on financial conditions and attitudes about the economy. The consumer sentiment index can be predictive of consumer spending. Confident consumers will typically spend more, consumer spending accounts for two thirds of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Retail sales measure the total sales of merchandise and services. Since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy, retail sales are predicative of overall GDP activity. The retail sales report is segmented by total sales and sales without automotive and gas. In February, retail sales increased 0.1% month-over-month, but less autos, the increase was 0.2% month-over-month. Sluggish automotive sales softened overall gains.
The housing market is influenced by overall economic activity like the labor market and consumer spending. When consumers are employed and spending responsibly, they are able to finance larger purchases like houses. Typically, spring and summer are busy seasons for housing, because of the warmer weather and construction activity.
Sources: Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Mortgage News Daily