Posted On October 13, 2017
Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, though there are no significant changes to report. The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) declined slightly as the unemployment rate dropped to a historical low. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported both new purchase and refinance applications declined last week. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales are up.
In August, job openings declined 0.9% to a level of approximately 6.1 million. With the unemployment rate down to a 4.2%, a 16-year low, employers are struggling to find the right employees to fill positions. Hirings and voluntary quits are also down. According to this report, the job market is still healthy, but job-related activity has slowed.
For the week ending 10/6, refinance applications dropped 4.0% and after two weeks of steady increases, new purchase applications dropped slightly down 0.1%, for a composite decrease of 2.1%. Mortgage rates have not moved much in the past couple of weeks, hovering year-long lows.
After declining 0.2% in August, retail sales rebounded substantially in September, up 1.6% month-over-month, the most significant increase in 2 ½ years. Less autos, sales are up 1.0%, and less autos and gas sales are up 0.5%. The substantial increase in automotive sales may be due in part to Texans and Floridians replacing hurricane-damaged vehicles.
Recent jobs reports are reflecting that the economy has neared full employment. Strong jobs reports are good news for the housing market. Comments from Federal Reserve officials, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, are supportive of one more rate hike in 2017. Mortgage rates have not reacted much to this speculation and continue to hold near year-long lows.