Mortgage rates continued to decline this week, Manufacturing activity in Philadelphia expand, Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose last week

April 20, 2017

Mortgage rates continued to decline this week due in part to weak economic data and geopolitical events. This prompted investors to switch assets into Treasury and Mortgage Backed Securities, which pushed mortgage rates lower. Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate ($424,100 or less) fell to 3.97% from 4.08% with 0.5 in points and fees. This is the lowest rate seen since early November 2016.

Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region continued to expand in April, though at a slower pace than last month. The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index fell to 22.0 this month from the 32.8 recorded in March. Within the report it showed that indexes for general activity, new orders and shipments remained positive but decreased from March. In addition, the employment component suggested expanding employment in the manufacturing sector.

Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits increased in the latest week though remain at lows not seen in decades. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose 10,000 last week to 244,000 following three straight weeks of declines. First-time unemployment claims have now remained below the 300,000 level for 111 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1970 when the labor market was smaller. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, fell 4,250 to 243,000 last week.