Thursday, December 10, 2015 - Article by: Mark Hemingway - Security Financial Services, LLC -
The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits continues to hover near lows seen in the early 1970s as the labor market continues to strengthen. As the end of the year approaches, claims tend to have a tendency to be a bit more volatile around the holiday season. The Labor Department reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 13,000 in the latest week to 282,000, the highest level since early July. Claims have now remained below the 300,000 level for 39 straight weeks.
Mortgage rates edged higher in the latest week following an upbeat Jobs Report, though rates still hover just above all-time lows. Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate ($417,000 or less), rose to 3.95% this week with 0.6 in points and fees. The 15-year fixed average rate climbed to 3.19% with average points and fees of 0.5. A year ago the 30-year rate was 3.93%, while the 15-year was 3.2%.
A recent survey conducted by the CNBC All-America Economic Survey reveals that just 22% of Americans see the economy improving, a five-point decline from last year this time. The survey could be signaling that consumers may be spending less on holiday shopping this year. Just 13% of those polled plan to spend more; 56% are planning to keep holiday spending at last year's level and 29% said they will reduce spending. The saving grace this year, low prices at the gas pumps, where the average national price is near $2 a gallon.
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