Last week’s economic news was dominated by the first address by the new Fed chairperson, Janet Yellen.
Tuesday’s news included the Jobs Openings report for December 2013, which matched November’s reading of 4.0 million jobs available.
This information was taken from a gauge of competition for available jobs; in December, competition for job openings fell to its lowest level in five years.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen‘s First Address to House
Janet Yellen addressed the House Financial Services Committee for the first time on Tuesday as Chair of the Federal Reserve.
Ms. Yellen indicated that she expected “a great deal of continuity” in terms of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy direction, and noted that markets should expect the FOMC to continue its support of low interest rates.
Chairman Yellen emphasized that the FOMC’s current tapering of its quantitative easing program was expected to continue, but is not on a pre-determined course.
If economic conditions change, the Fed’s monetary policy would be adjusted according to such developments.
Mortgage Rates Mixed According To Freddie Mac
According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.28 percent from the prior week’s 4.23 percent.
The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgage mortgages was unchanged at 3.33 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 3.08 percent to 3.05 percent.
Discount points for each category were unchanged at 0.70 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
In other news, Weekly Jobless Claims were higher last week at 339,000 against a forecast of 330,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 331,000 new jobless claims.
Analysts cited bad weather and the possibility of slower economic growth as factors, but said that it was too soon to tell if economic growth is slowing down.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index beat expectations with a reading of 81.2 against expectations for a reading of 80.0. February’s reading was unchanged from January.
What‘s Coming Up
This week’s economic news includes the NAHB Home Builder’s Housing Market Index on Tuesday. Wednesday’s events include Housing Starts and the minutes from January’s FOMC meeting.
In addition to Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Thursday’s scheduled reports include Weekly Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI. Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January will also be released.
The National Association of REALTORS® will release data for existing home sales in January on Friday.