Mortgage bond prices finished the week lower which put upward pressure on rates. Rates were higher early in the week despite mixed housing data. Existing home sales printed at 5.08M versus the expected 5.37M. The FHFA Housing Price Index rose 6% on an annual basis. That data showed an upward trajectory in housing prices, rising above the December data. New home sales printed at 512K which was as expected. There was some flight to quality buying of mortgage bonds in response to the attacks in Belgium which counted some of the earlier selling pressure. The market closed early Thursday ahead of the Good Friday holiday. Mortgage interest rates finished the week worse by approximately 1/8 of a discount point.
The employment report provides an abundance of information for many sectors of the economy and is probably the most important piece of data released each month. Not only does the release give basic employment payroll statistics for the major working sectors, it also provides the average hourly earnings and the average workweek. Economists use this information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor to estimate many other economic indicators such as industrial production, personal income, housing starts, and GDP monthly revisions. Since there is little data for economists to base their estimates on, the margin of error for the estimates tends to be high. As a result, the employment report can cause substantial market movements. The BLS compiles data from two unrelated surveys that they conduct, the household survey and the establishment survey, in order to complete the report. This explains why there is sometimes a divergence between the unemployment rate and payrolls figure. Be alert heading into the release.
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