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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, JOLTS, and Retail Sales

Posted On October 09, 2017

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Markets will be closed today in observance of Columbus today.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its September meeting.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out Wednesday.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will also release its weekly survey of mortgage applications on Wednesday.  The retail sales report comes out Friday. 

Last week, new purchase applications increased and refinance applications declined.  Mortgage rates remain low, after the FOMC voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  Mortgage application data has been slightly skewed from delayed reports out of Texas and Florida due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The Labor Department’s JOLTS report tracks monthly changes in job openings, hirings, and voluntary quits.  In a healthy labor market, employees feel confident that they will be able to change jobs and earn a comparable salary.  In July, there were 6.170 million job openings.  Employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill open positions.

Retail sales is used to measure consumer spending on a fixed basket of merchandise and related services.  The report is divided by total retail sales, retail sales less autos, and retail sales less auto and gas.  Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic activity.  In August, retail sales declined -0.2% month-over-month, but improved 0.2% less autos.

The FOMC is scheduled to meet two more times this year.  Last December, Fed Chair Janet Yellen projected three rate hikes in 2017.  So far, the Fed has raised rates twice.  Despite strong inflation, slowed job growth contributed to the decision to keep rates unchanged.  Mortgage rates remain relatively low, after climbing to year-long highs earlier in the year. 

 

Sources: Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Mortgage News Daily