Last week’s economic reporting included the Federal Reserve’s statement on its target interest rate range and Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s regularly-scheduled press conference. Data on construction spending and public and private-sector jobs was published along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims.
Fed Hikes Key Interest Rate Range, but Signals a Future Slowdown
The Federal Reserve increased its key interest rate range last week from 3.50-3.75 percent to 3.75-4.00 percent. While this was the highest interest rate range in 15 years, the Fed said it plans to continue raising the target interest rate range until it reduces the inflation rate to 2 percent “over time.” Analysts viewed the Fed’s latest comments as less aggressive than its stance earlier this year.
Fed chair Jerome Powell said during his scheduled press conference that at some time “it will be appropriate to slow the pace of increases.” Mr. Powell also cautioned that the target interest rate range will likely rise past the current expected rate range of 4.50 to 4.75 percent.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Mixed
Average mortgage rates fell last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 13 basis points to 6.95 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.29 percent and 7 basis points lower than in the previous week. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point lower at 5.95 percent; Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 1.20 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.
Initial jobless claims fell by 217,000 claims as compared to the previous week’s reading of 218,000 new claims filed. Continuing jobless claims increased to 1.49 million claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 1.44 million ongoing claims filed.
Job Growth Data Mixed, Unemployment Rate Rises
ADP reported 239,000 private-sector jobs added in October as compared to expectations of 195,000 jobs added and September’s reading of 192,000 private-sector jobs added. The Commerce Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls reported 261,000 public and private-sector jobs added in October as compared to expectations of 205,000 jobs added and 315,000 jobs added in September. The national unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent in October from September’s rate of 3.5 percent.
In other news, construction spending rose 0.2 percent in September; analysts expected spending to drop -0.6 percent based on August’s construction spending pace of -0.7 percent
This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.