4-9-21 Home Borrowing fell, unemployment, Fed minutes

April 09, 2021

Home borrowing costs fell for the first time in seven weeks and remain at historically low levels. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.13% from 3.18% with 0.7 in points and fees. A year ago at this time, the rate was not much higher at 3.33%. It is up from 2.65% on January 7 of this year. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist said, “The drop in rates creates yet another opportunity for those who have not refinanced to take a look at the possibility.”

First-time unemployment claims increased in the latest week but the numbers have been on a downward slope. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose to 744,000 from 728,000 for the week ended April 3, 2021. To put it into perspective, the week of March 14, 2020 claims were 282,000. The week of March 21, 2020, they skyrocketed to 3.3 million as lockdowns took hold. Continuing claims, or those receiving benefits for at least two weeks straight, fell to 3.73 million from 3.75 million. With more and more states reopening their economies, many unemployed Americans should be able to go back to work.

The Fed minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed what Fed Chair Powell has been saying for quite some time … rates will remain low through at least 2022 and maybe even into 2023. The Fed minutes also signaled that it is still wary of the labor market and the ongoing risks from COVID. The Fed will continue to purchase Mortgage-Backed and Treasury securities until such time that it sees significant improvement in the economy and labor markets. The short-term Fed Funds Rate, currently near zero percent, was left unchanged. Bottom line … the Fed continues its dovish tone.