How Do Mortgage Points Cut Your Interest Costs?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 28th, 2020

How Do Mortgage Points Cut Your Interest CostsThose who are involved in the real estate industry likely know that mortgage rates are at an all-time low. At the same time, nobody wants to pay more for a house than they have to. Some of the most important factors that dictate how much someone is going to pay for a house include points and interest rates.

While interest rates are incredibly low, there is a way to make them lower. This comes in the form of points. This is additional money that is paid upfront to get a better deal over the life of the loan. Even though this sounds great in theory this might not be the best option for everyone. There are a few important points to keep in mind.

What Are Points?

Often, the lender is going to offer someone the option of paying points when the mortgage is created. This should be viewed as paying interest on the loan in advance. In exchange for paying interest upfront, the lender should offer to lock in a lower interest rate over the life of the loan. The more points someone purchases, the better the rate.

For example, paying one point of interest may reduce the interest rate on the loan by 0.25 percent. This is standard. Take, for example, a $200,000 home. One point on this loan would cost someone about $2,000. In exchange, the interest rate on the loan is going to drop by 0.25 percent. This might be worth it in the long run.

Discount Points

Other people might have heard about something called discount points. This is another term for mortgage points. The two terms can be used interchangeably. Typically, people can purchase as many discount points as they want, up to the limit of the lender. 

An Overview Of Origination Points

Another type of points that people might have heard about is origination points or origination fees usually expressed by a percentage of the loan amount. These are points that are charged to the borrower to cover the of processing, or originating, the mortgage loan. These fees are included in the total closing costs disclosed when you apply for your home loan.

Origination points are almost always negotiable. The number of origination points that a lender is going to charge can vary from place to place. Therefore, always be sure to ask about origination points. There might be a way to get these points waived, saving the borrower a significant amount of money.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 9th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 9th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 9th, 2020Home mortgage rates slipped to their lowest rates on record as uncertainty over the coronavirus continued to impact financial markets. Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates for fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages.

Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 16 basis points to 3.29 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was also 16 basis points lower at 2.79 percent.

Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages were two points lower on average at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The 10-Year Treasury Yield, which tracks with mortgage rates, slipped to 0.90 percent last week; this was the first time the yield rate fell below one percent.

Homeowners rushed to take advantage of low mortgage rates through refinancing, but homebuyers could not gain the same benefits from record-low mortgage rates due to persistent shortages of available and affordable homes for sale. Analysts advised against waiting to refinance as home mortgage rates aren’t expected to fall much lower.

Construction Spending Rises, Fed Cuts Key Rate as National Unemployment Rate Falls

Analysts have long relied on home builders to ease chronically short supplies of homes for sale. Construction spending rose to 1.80 percent in January as compared to December’s rate of  0.20 percent. Analysts expected January’s construction spending to rise to 0.90 percent.

The Federal Reserve cut its target federal funds rate range by 0.50 percent to 1.00-1.25 percent.in a move to relieve the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy. The Fed may cut its key rate by an additional  0.25 percent  when the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee holds its scheduled meeting on March 17-18th.

Labor-sector reports showed mixed results for job growth. The government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 273,000 public and private-sector jobs added in February, this pace was unchanged from January. ADP reported 183,000 jobs added in February as compared to 209,000 jobs added in January.

First-time unemployment claims fell to216,000 claims filed from the prior week’s reading of 219,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 217,000 new claims filed. The national unemployment rate dropped to 3.50 percent in February as compared to January’s reading of 3.60 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 2nd, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 2nd, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 2nd, 2020Economic readings released last week included Case-Shiller and FHFA Home Price Indices and reports on new and pending home sales. The week wrapped up with a report on consumer sentiment and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Faster Home Price Growth

Home prices rose by 3.80 percent year-over-year in December according to Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 2.90 percent year-over-year in December as compared to November’s reading of a 3.50 percent gain over-over-year; Case-Shiller reported 0.40 percent growth in home prices from month-to-month.

The 20-City Home Price Index reported no change in the top three cities for year-over-year home price growth. Phoenix, Arizona reported 6.50 percent home price growth in December followed by Charlotte, North Carolina’s reading of 5.30 percent home price growth. Tampa, Florida reported 5.20 percent year-over-year home price growth.

The Federal HousingFinance Agency reported its 34th consecutive quarter of home price growth in December. Home prices rose by 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and were 0.60 percent higher month-to-month.

2019 saw home buyers leave pricey coastal metro areas in favor of less expensive markets in mountain states and in the South. Home prices in these areas rose as demand increased. Overall, real estate pros reported lingering shortages of homes for sale in many areas, but low mortgage rates prompted would-be buyers to enter the market. Increased demand for homes further boosted home prices in many areas.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week as 30-year fixed mortgage rates dropped four basis points to 3.45 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 2.95 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.20 percent and were five basis points lower.

Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.

First-time jobless claims rose last week; 219,000 new claims were filed and exceeded expectations of 214,000 claims and the prior week’s reading of 211,000 first-time claims filed.

New and Pending Home Sales Increase in January

764,000 new homes were sold in January on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis according to the Commerce Department. Analysts expected 722,000 new home sales based on December’s reading of 708,000 new homes sold. Low mortgage rates boosted sales as buyers turned to new home developments to take advantage of rock-bottom mortgage rates.

Pending home sales rose 5.20 percent in January as compared to a dip of -4.30 percent in December according to the National Association of Realtors®. Pending home sales were 8.70 percent higher in the South and 7.10 percent higher in the Midwest. Pending sales rose by 1.20 percent in the Northeast and fell 1.10 percent in the West.

The University of Michigan reported slight growth in consumer sentiment in February with an index reading of 101.0 as compared to January’s reading of 100.9. Analysts expected no change from January’s reading.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private-sector job growth and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 24th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 24th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 24th, 2020Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on builder confidence in housing markets, housing starts and building permits issued and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Remains Strong Despite Challenges

February data from the National Association of Home Builders indicated strong builder confidence in housing market conditions overall, but February’s index reading was one point lower at 74. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders have a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Homebuilder outlook remained positive, although building materials and buildable lots remained costly. Demand for affordable single-family homes was high due to short supplies of existing homes for sale. Homebuyers turned to new homes to find more options. Low mortgage rates and strong job markets contributed to high builder confidence readings.

Housing Starts Fall in January as Building Permits Rise to 13-Year High

Commerce Department data on housing starts showed that the pace of housing starts slipped  3.60 percent from 1.626 million starts in December to 1.567 million starts in January. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts said that January’s housing starts were markedly lower after an unexpected rise in housing starts in December 2019.

Building permits rose by 9.60 percent in January with 1.55 million permits issued as compared to 1.420 permits issued in December and an expected annual pace of 1.453 million housing starts for January.

Ongoing shortages of available single-family homes can only be resolved by building more homes, but home builders face obstacles in obtaining necessary zoning  approvals. January’s increase in permits issued is expected to help ease persistently slim inventories of homes for sale.

Sales of previously-owned homes dipped in January due to short supplies of homes for sale and fewer options for would-be home buyers. Pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.46 million sales as compared to December’s reading of 5.53 million sales.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose two basis points to 3.49 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also rose two basis points to 2.99 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 3.25 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 210,000 claims filed, which matched expectations. The prior week’s reading showed 206,000 first-time claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on home price trends from Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency and readings on new home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 18th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020Last week’s economic reporting included releases on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Hits Highest Growth Pace Since 2018

Consumer staples including rent, prepared food and medical expenses caused inflation to rise 0.10 percent from December to January, which was the smallest month-to-month growth in four months. Rents drove month-to-month inflation with a growth rate of  0.40 percent.

Year-over-year inflation grew from 2.30 percent to 2.50 percent, which was the highest year-over-year growth rate since Fall 2018. Analysts said that inflation remained low according to historical data and that no sharp inflationary growth was expected.

The rapid acceleration of rents and home prices continued to create obstacles for renters and homebuyers, who faced prices rising faster than the overall inflation rate and wage growth,

Retail Sales Dip in January

The Commerce Department reported an 0.30 percent drop in retail sales for January, which matched expectations, but was half the growth rate of 0.60 percent posted in December. January’s lower reading was largely attributed to clothing stores, which experienced a 3.10 percent decline in sales after the holiday season.

Analysts expected retail sales to grow at a pace fast enough to support economic growth throughout 2020.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgage loans last week; rates averaged 3.47 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and were two basis points higher. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 2.97percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose an average of four basis points to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 205,000 new claims filed but fell short of an expected reading of 211,000 new claims filed. The prior week’s reading for new unemployment claims was 203,000 claims filed.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence for February; the Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 100.8 from January’s index reading of  99.8. Analysts predicted no change for February’s reading.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on NAHB Housing Markets, Housing starts, building permits and sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 10th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 10th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 10th, 2020Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending and public and private-sector job growth. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Dips in December

Overall spending on public and private-sector construction spending dropped by  -0.20 percent in December to an annual rate of $1.33 trillion. Analysts expected spending to increase by 0.10 percent based on November’s revised reading of 0.70 percent growth in construction spending.

Spending on residential construction rose 1.04 percent in December, which is good news for housing shortages in many areas of the U.S. Lower mortgage and interest rates have fueled builder confidence as fears about the impact of tariffs on building materials were diminished.

Chronic short supplies of homes, especially affordable homes, have impacted housing markets in recent years. Builders seeking higher profits have focused on high-end construction as demand increased for entry-level and mid-range homes. Slim supplies of available homes continued to sideline buyers who couldn’t find affordable homes or homes they wanted to buy.

Bidding wars and cash buyers in high-demand markets also add additional pressure to home buyers who depend on mortgage financing. Real estate pros and industry analysts have long said the only way to ease high demand and rapidly rising home prices is for builders to produce more homes at a variety of price points.

Mortgage Rates, New Unemployment Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed mortgage rates for the third consecutive week as the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell six basis points to 3.45 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged three basis points lower at 2.97 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged eight basis points higher at 3.32 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

New unemployment claims fell to 202,000 claims filed as compared to 215,000 new claims expected and the prior week’s reading of 217,000 first-time claims filed. The month-to-month reading for first time jobless claims is considered more stable and showed 211,750 new claims filed. The lowest post-recession month-to-month reading of 193,000 new claims filed was posted in April 2019.

Public and Private-Sector Jobs Increase in January

The government’s Non-farm Payrolls report posted 225,000 new public and private-sector jobs in January as compared to December’s reading of 147,000 jobs posted. An average of 211,000 public and private-sector jobs were added in the last three months. ADP reported  291,000 private-sector jobs added in January as compared to 199,000 jobs added in December.

The Commerce Department reported a national unemployment rate of 3.60 percent in January; analysts expected the unemployment rate to hold steady at December’s reading of 3.50 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates ad first-time jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 3rd, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 3rd, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week –February 3rd, 2020Last week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, new and pending home sales and a statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee. The University of Michigan issued its monthly statement on consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Picks Up in November

According to Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index for November, home prices rose by 3.50 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to October’s reading of 3.20 percent. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index showed that home prices for cities included in the Index rose 2.60 percent year-over-year. All 20 cities showed growth in home prices on a month-to-month basis.

Cities with top rates of home price growth have shifted from high-cost coastal metro areas to more moderately priced areas inland and in the South. Phoenix, Arizona reported a reading of 5.90 percent growth in home prices year-over-year and has held first place in the 20-City Home Price Index for six consecutive months.

Charlotte, North Carolina held second place with a year-over-year home price gain of 5.20 percent. Tampa, Florida reported a  5.00 percent gain in home prices and held third place in the 20-City Index.

New Home Sales dipped by 3000 sales in December to a rate of 694,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. December sales of new homes fell short of the expected reading of 735,000 sales according to the Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The seasonally-adjusted inventory of 327,000 new homes available represented a 5.70 months supply of new homes based on the current sales rate.

In related news, the National Association of Realtors® reported fewer pending home sales in December; all regions reported fewer pending sales in December as compared to November. Pending sales in the Northeast were -4.00 percent lower; pending sales in the Midwestern region fell by -3.60 percent and  December’spending sales in the South and West were -5.50 percent and -5.40 percent lower respectively.

The steep drop in pending home sales was attributed to slim inventories of available homes, but fewer buyers make offers on homes during the winter holiday season. Pending sales represent homes for which purchase offers have been received but not closed.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve unanimously voted to hold the Fed’s benchmark interest rate at a range of 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that current domestic economic conditions were strong, but he also noted potential unrest in global economies due to factors including the outbreak of a highly contagious Asian flu virus.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week with the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages nine basis points lower at 3.51 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged four basis points lower at 3.00 percent; interest rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were four basis points lower at an average of 3.24 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages,

Fewer first-time jobless claims were filed last week; 216,000 new claims were filed as compared to 223,000 claims filed the prior week. The University of Michigan reported that consumer sentiment rose to an index reading of 99.80; analysts expected a reading of 99.10 based on December’s reading of 99.30.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, public and private-sector job growth and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Is A 15 Or 30 Year Mortgage Right For You?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 24th, 2020

Is A 15 Or 30 Year Mortgage Right For YouWhen someone is looking to purchase a house, they need to think about how long they want their mortgage to last. While a bank can structure a mortgage to last for any number of years, the most common lengths are 15 and 30 years. While a 30-year mortgage is typically more affordable, a 15-year mortgage is cheaper overall. 

When someone is trying to decide how long they want their mortgage to last, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

The Benefits Of A 15-Year Mortgage

There are a few important benefits that everyone should know about a 15-year mortgage. Some of the biggest benefits include:

  • With a 15-year mortgage, people are going to pay off their home more quickly. This will free up cash to spend in other places. Those who are looking to retire without a mortgage may want to go with a 15-year mortgage. 
  • Next, a 15-year mortgage is going to come with a lower interest rate. Because the bank is going to get their money back more quickly, they are going to reward the borrower with a lower interest rate. Overall, the bank is taking on less risk.
  • Finally, a 15-year mortgage is also going to be cheaper overall. With a lower interest rate and a loan that is paid off more quickly, the bank is going to take less of someone’s money over the life of the loan. 

The Benefits Of A 30-Year Mortgage

A 30-year mortgage has some notable differences when compared to a 15-year mortgage. There are a few important benefits that people need to remember. These include:

  • The monthly payments are going to lower. Those who are planning on paying for their children’s college education, or who envision a car payment in the near future, may want to have extra cash on hand to fund them.
  • As someone pays off their mortgage the interest paid on the loan is tax-deductible. Since more interest is paid on a 30-year mortgage, there will be greater tax savings as well. This means that people will get some of their money back.
  • Finally, a 30-year mortgage is also more flexible. During the loan, people may elect to make extra payments. This allows someone to pay off their home more quickly.

These are a few of the most important points people need to remember when trying to decide between a 15-year and 30-year mortgage. 

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 21st, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 21st, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 21st, 2020Last week’s economic reports included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index along with readings on consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence d in Housing Markets Drops 1 Point in January

Homebuilder confidence in overall housing market conditions dropped one point in January, but analysts said that a new trade deal would likely benefit builder interests. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped to an index reading of 75 from December’s reading of 76; December’s reading was the highest since 1999.

The reading for builder confidence in January 2019 was 58; while any reading over 50 is considered positive, builder confidence increased significantly year-over-year.

Sub-index readings used to calculate the overall housing market index reading were mixed;  builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell -3 points to an index reading of 81.

Homebuilder confidence in market conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 79. Homebuilder confidence in buyer traffic levels in new housing developments rose one point to 58; index readings over 50 for buyer traffic are unusual.

NAHB reported mixed readings for homebuilder sentiment regionally. Builder confidence in market conditions in the Western region rose four points; builder confidence in the Northeastern region rose three points and builder confidence readings for the South were unchanged. Builder confidence in housing market conditions in the Midwest fell seven points.

Factors contributing to high builder confidence in housing markets include high demand for homes and a potential easing of materials prices due to recent trade agreements. Builders continue to battle high materials and labor costs that reduce their profit margins. Analysts note that narrower profit margins contribute to builders’ongoing focus on building high-end homes.

Mortgage Rates Rise; New Jobless Claims Fall

Average mortgage rates rose incrementally last week; Freddie Mac reported a one basis point gain for 30-year-fixed-rate mortgages to 3.65 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.09 percent and were two basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.39 percent and were nine basis points higher.

New jobless claims were lower than expected with 204,000 initial claims filed. Analysts expected 220,000 new claims and 214,000 new claims were filed the prior week. Initial jobless claims fell for the fifth consecutive week, which indicates a strong labor market.

The University of Michigan reported a lower index reading for its Consumer Sentiment Index in January. The monthly reading fell to 99.1 from December’s reading of 99.3; the projected reading for January was 99.6. The Consumer Sentiment Index reflects consumers’ attitudes toward their personal finances along with their views of overall business and buying conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include sales of previously-owned homes and the Chicago Fed’sNational Index report; weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 13th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 13th, 2020Last week’s economic reports included readings on public and private sector jobs, the national unemployment rate and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

ADP: Private-Sector Job Growth Eases in December

Private-sector jobs increased by 202,000 jobs in December and exceeded expectations. November’s original reading of 60,000 new private-sector jobs was revised to 124,000 jobs.

Three and six-month average private-sector job growth rates were 159,000 and 151,000 jobs, but these growth rates fell short of 2018’s average monthly job growth rate of 218,000 jobs added.

Analysts said that private-sector job growth has settled into a more modest but steady pattern.

Non-Farm Payrolls: Public and Private-Sector Job Growth Slower in December

The Commerce Department reported 145,000 public and private-sector jobs added in December with 145,000 new jobs reported. Analysts expected 165,000 new jobs added, which was markedly less than 256,000 new jobs added in November.

Reduction in new jobs during December was likely due to slowing in holiday hiring and winter weather. Average hourly earnings for December rose by 0.10 percent and were lower than expectations of  0.30 percent growth. Slower wage growth contributed to predictions of slowing economic growth.

The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.50 percent in December.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell eight basis points to 3.64 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged nine basis points lower at 3.07 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 13 basis points lower at 3.30 percent. Discount points for fixed-rate mortgages averaged 0.70 percent and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

Freddie Mac predicted that rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will average 3.80 percent in 2020 as compared to 4.00 percent in 2019.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 214,000 new claims; analysts expected 219,000 new claims filed. 223,000 first-time claims were filed the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and inflation will also be released. The University of Michigan will post data on consumer sentiment; weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be posted as scheduled.

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