Market Forecast: No Rate Hike, JOLTS, Mortgage Apps, and Retail Sales

Posted On May 08, 2017

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Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) left rates unchanged after their meeting.  As a result, mortgage rates trended slightly downward.  This week, the Labor Department releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) puts out a weekly mortgage applications survey, and the retail sales report comes out Friday. 

The JOLTS report tracks monthly changes in job openings as well as employee outlook on the employment situation.  When workers are confident that they will find a new job after leaving their current position, this is a sign of strength.  In February, there were 5.743 million job openings.  The data lags by a month, but is still a strong indicator of the strength of the labor market.  

The MBA mortgage applications survey is segmented by refinance and new purchase applications.  Mortgage applications experienced some volatility in March, declining for two weeks straight and rebounding last week.  Some housing experts suggest Spring Break and Easter holidays caused the market slowdown.

The retail sales report tracks the total of transactions for consumer goods and services segmented by durables and nondurables and also, with and less automotive and gas.  Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), thus can be a major economic trigger.  In March, retail sales were down 0.2% month-over-month but showed to change less autos.  It its statement following last week’s meeting, the FOMC noted a slowdown in consumer spending.

Friday’s strong jobs report has most markets pricing in a rate hike this June.  The FOMC is scheduled to meet June 13-14 and a press conference is scheduled with Chairwoman Janet Yellen following the meeting.


Sources: Bloomberg, CNBC, Federal Reserve, MarketWatch, Mortgage News Daily