Mortgage Rates, Durable Goods, Unemployment Benefits

February 25, 2016

Thursday – February 25

Mortgage rates edged lower in the latest week and now hover just above all-time lows. Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate fell to 3.62% this week with 0.6 in points and fees added on top of the rate. It is the lowest mortgage rate since February 2015. Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said lower rates are helping with affordability as tight housing supplies pushes home prices higher.

Orders for goods lasting more than three years jumped in January and marked their largest monthly gain since last spring, signaling that the manufacturing sector may be turning the corner to greener pastures. The Commerce Department reported that January Durable Goods Orders jumped by nearly 5%, well above the 2% expected. The big boost came from a 54.2% surge in civilian aircraft.

Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose in the latest week, but continue to remain below levels associated with a strengthening labor market. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 10,000 to 272,000, just above the 270,000 expected. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, fell 1,250 to 272,000 last week. It was the 51st week that first time claims remained below the 300,000 level, the longest spell since the early 1970s.