The big economic news this week was Friday’s Employment data, which fell short of Wall Street forecasts and pushed mortgage rates lower. Investors continued to watch the situation in Europe, but there were no major market moving developments. Due to a rally on Friday, mortgage rates ended the week lower.
The May Employment report revealed the largest monthly increase in jobs since March 2000, but nearly all of the gains came from the hiring of temporary census workers. Without the census workers, the data fell short of expectations. A total of 431K jobs were added in May, below the consensus forecast of 500K. 411K jobs came from census hiring, leaving a net gain of just 20K jobs when those workers are excluded. The Unemployment Rate dropped to 9.7% from 9.9% in April, but this was mostly due to people dropping out of the labor force. Investors had expected stronger results from private sector job growth, and the stock market fell after the news. Weak labor market figures generally lead to lower inflation and are favorable for mortgage markets.
The news from the housing sector was more positive. April Pending Home Sales rose 6% from March, which was stronger than expected, to the highest level since October 2009. Pending sales are a leading indicator of future housing market activity. The April 30 expiration of the homebuyer tax credit likely pulled some pending sales forward which otherwise might have taken place later in the year. The benefits, though, of extremely low mortgage rates and very affordable home prices are in place to promote home buying activity even without the homebuyer tax credit.