U.S. Economy adds 228,000 new jobs in November – The Labor Department reported that 228,000 net new jobs were added in November. That beat analysts expectations of 195,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate held at 4.1%, a 17 year low. Average hourly wages rose just 2.5% from one year ago. Wage gains have been sluggish for several years. Experts had hoped that a tighter labor market would result in higher wages. The Fed has a 3% target on wage gains. Nothing in this report is expected to change their policy of slowly raising overnight rates, according to experts.
Stocks mostly higher – Stocks rose slightly this week as investors digested what a final tax reform bill would look like. It appears that the Senate and House are getting close to a final version. Wall Street is focused on the corporate tax rate. While last Friday a reduction from 35% to 20% seemed like a done deal, President Trump said Monday that he would settle for a 22% corporate rate. Stocks dropped because this took investors by surprise. He previously said he would not accept a corporate tax rate above 20% and that was an area in which the House and Senate bills were in agreement. By the end of the week it appeared that the corporate rate would end up at 20% and stocks rebounded. The November jobs report, which was released on Friday, also added to investor confidence as the economy added 228,000 new jobs. The analysts expectations were 195,000 new jobs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 24,326.16, up from 24,231.59 week. It’s up 23.1% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,651.50, up from its close last week of 2,642.32. The S&P is up 18.4% year-to-date. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,840.08, down from its last week’s close of 6,847.59. It is up 27.1% year-to-date.
Bond yields end week almost the same as last Friday – The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.38%, unchanged from 2.37% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.77%, unchanged from 2.76% last week.
Mortgage Rates slightly higher – The December 7, 2017 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.94%, up from 3.90% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.36%, up from 3.30% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.35%, up from last week’s 3.32%.
Confirming and FHA loan limits increase – The confirming loan limit will increase from $424,100 to $453,100. The conforming high balance will go from 636,150 to $679,650 in 2018. The FHA loan limit will also rise to $679,650. Both conforming and FHA limits increase for 2,3 and 4 unit dwellings.