Last week’s economic reports included readings on construction spending, mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. Other labor-related claims included ADP payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.
Construction Spending Rises in February
Construction spending was higher in February according to the Commerce Department. Spending on building projects rose by 0.10 percent in February Reuters reported that construction spending rose 0.10 percent as compared to expectations of an 0.40 percent increase and January’s unchanged reading. Seasonal weather conditions typically cause lulls in building. Analysts said that residential construction spending increased by 0.10 percent to its highest level since January 2007.
Real estate analysts have consistently indicated that building more homes is the only solution to lingering shortages of available homes in the U.S. Recent news about tariffs on foreign building materials may cause builders to wait and see how tariffs will impact business before going all-out on building homes.
Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent.15-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.87 percent, which was three basis points lower than the prior week. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.62 percent and were four basis points lower than for the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
Weekly jobless claims rose to 242,000 new claims filed as compared to 225,000 new claims expected and 218,0000 claims filed the prior week.
Labor Reports Show Mixed Results
ADP reported fewer private-sector jobs created in March with 241,000 jobs created as compared to February’s reading of 246,000 new private-sector jobs. The Labor Department reported a sharp drop in Non-Farm payrolls, which measures public and private-sector job growth. 103,000 jobs were added in March as compared to February’s revised reading of 326,000 jobs added. Jobs added in March were at their lowest level since fall 2017.
Analysts put the low Non-Farm payrolls reading in perspective; on average 202,000 jobs were added monthly during the first quarter of 2018 and jobs growth was faster than during first quarters of 2016 and 2017. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.10 percent; this was the lowest rate in 17 years. Low unemployment rates typically indicate few layoffs and suggest strong economic growth.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will release minutes from its last meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.