We knew this time would come, it’s just always a surprise when it does.
Monday the Personal Income for December was a solid rise of 0.4%, with personal spending up 0.4%. Solid good news for workers and spending, not so good for interest rates.
Wednesday the Employment Cost Index was up 0.4%, slightly lower than expected, which is an interest-rate friendly data point. Also, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee saw Janet Yellen’s last meeting, and no rate hike as expected.
Thursday the Q4 Productivity number was down 0.1% and unit labor costs were up 0.2%, which put together is just slightly interest rate unfriendly. The bond market reacted strongly to this data and fell .16% which caused interest rates on a 30 year loan to go up 0.25% in one day.
Friday we got the jobs report which was the icing on the cake, that is, yummy for workers and not so tasty for the mortgage rates. Remember, good news is bad for rates. The Labor Dept. released their January non-farm payrolls and were up 200,000 and revised their December number up 160,000. Unemployment stayed the same at 4.1% and the labor participation rate is at 62.7% (meaning only 62.7% of eligible workers are actually working). Average hourly earnings numbers were announced as up 0.3%.
All this is great for workers, but not great for the possibility of inflation and therefore the mortgage rates are staying down. Interest rates continued their upward movement, for a cumulative rate increase of 0.5% on most loan programs in the last two weeks.