Interest Rate Hike, Unemployment, Homes sales Subdued Q4

December 17, 2015

Thursday – December 17

The Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) of the U.S. finally raised its short-term interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade yesterday. There is a misconception amongst consumers that mortgage rates automatically will push higher because of this. The Fed, however, does not control long-term rates, which are actually based based on economic conditions and inflation expectations. On the other hand, consumers will be impacted as the following rates are adjusted higher – short term interest rate loans, credit card rates, HELOC rates, and auto, business and student loans.

Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits declined in the latest week, signaling ongoing improvement in the labor markets. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell 11,000 in the latest week to 271,000, the 41st straight week below the 300,000 level. That is the longest stretch since the early 1970s. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, remained unchanged at 270,500. Continuing claims or those who still receive benefits fell 7,000 to 2.24 million.

Fannie Mae released its December 2015 Economic and Housing Outlook this week revealing that economic activity in the fourth quarter appears to be weaker than expected. The report went on to say that real consumer spending is expected to rebound early next year amid a tightening labor market and a renewed decline in gasoline prices, helping to offset persistent economic headwinds. “Home sales will likely remain subdued in the near term, but private residential construction spending started the fourth quarter on a strong note and housing demand is looking up as we head into next year,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan.