The prospect of tighter monetary policy from the European Central Bank (ECB) was the main influence on U.S. mortgage rates last week. The U.S. economic data caused little reaction, and mortgage rates ended the week higher.
Similar to what the U.S. Fed did earlier in the decade, the ECB has been buying massive quantities of government bonds to help push yields lower and stimulate the European economy. This has been good for bonds around the world and has lowered U.S. mortgage rates. However, last week ECB President Draghi hinted that they might begin to scale back (taper) their bond purchases sooner than expected. The possibility of reduced demand from the ECB caused bond yields to rise. Then on Wednesday, the ECB released the minutes from the June 8th meeting, and this reinforced investor expectations for tighter monetary policy. Global bond yields rose further, including U.S. mortgage-backed securities, pushing mortgage rates higher.
Friday’s release of the key Employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a familiar story. Job gains were impressive, but wage growth was not. Against a consensus forecast of 175,000, the economy added 222,000 jobs in June. In addition, upward revisions added 47,000 jobs to the results for prior months. The economy has added an average of 194,000 jobs over the past three months, compared to a monthly average of 187,000 for all of 2016. The unemployment rate unexpectedly increased from 4.3% to 4.4%, but this was viewed as a sign of strength since it was mostly due to workers entering the labor force. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, fell short of expectations and were just 2.5% higher than a year ago. The weakness in wage growth was good for mortgage rates and offset the negative effect of the solid job gains. As a result, there was little net change in mortgage rates after the release of the data.
Looking ahead, Friday will be the big day this week with Retail Sales, as consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic output in the U.S.
Please let me know if you have any questions in regards to this, or if there is anything we can do for you and your valued clients.
Thank you for your continued support, have a productive week.
SVP, Regional Manager
THE CRAWFORD TEAM
V.I.P. Mortgage, Inc.