Cautious to Raise Fed Funds Rate, Jobless Claims, Jobs Report

March 31, 2016

Thursday – March 31

Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that mortgage rates were unchanged this week and remain just above all-time lows. Earlier in the week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank should move cautiously in raising the short-term Fed Funds Rate. The 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate ($417,000 or less) remained steady at 3.71% with 0.5 paid in points and fees. Last year at this time the rate was 3.70%.

Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose this week, but still remain below the 300,000 mark for the longest stretch not seen the early 1970s. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose 11,000 in the latest week to 276,000, above the 265,000 expected. The labor market continues to strengthen, easing fears of the U.S. heading into a recession, though wage gains have been dismal. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, rose 3,500 to 263,250.

The closely watched Jobs Report for March will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning and will be scrutinized by traders and investors around the globe. It is expected that employers added 200,000 new workers in March, which would be below the 242,000 created in February. Within the report it should show that the Unemployment Rate held steady at 4.9%, the lowest level since late 2008.