U.S. Economy added 140,000 new Jobs in December – The unemployment rate held steady at a 50-year low - The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. employers added 140,000 new jobs in December. That was below analysts’ expectations of 160,000 new jobs. For the year, 2.11 million jobs were created in 2019. Although, that was down from 2.68 million new jobs added in 2018, it marked a record of 10 straight years of job growth. The unemployment rate ended the year at 3.5%, down from 3.9% in December 2018. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since 1969. Wage growth,which has been unusually stubborn over the last 10 years, rose just 2.9% year over year. It’s unusual to have such low wage growth with such low unemployment. Usually low unemployment means more competition for fewer workers, which pushes wages up. Rises in the minimum wage in many states and cities accounted for most of the wage gains. The gains were mainly at the lower wage levels. Other than wage growth, which was disappointing since the expansion began 10 years ago, everything else about these job reports have been stellar, marking a decade of record-breaking job growth.
Stock Markets – Major indexes closed at records again on Thursday, and the Dow exceeding 29,000 for the first time ever. Unfortunately, stocks pulled back on Friday after a job report was released that did not meet expectations. Stocks ended the week higher in the first full week of trading of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 28,823.77, up 0.7% from 28,634.88 last week. The S&P 500 closed the week at 3,265.35, up 0.9% from 3,234.85 last week. The NASDAQ closed the week at 9,178.86, up 1.8% from 9,020.77 last week.
U.S. treasury bond yields almost unchanged this week – The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 1.83%, almost unchanged from 1.80% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 2.28%, almost unchanged from 2.26% last week. We watch treasury bond yields because mortgage rates often follow bond yields.
Mortgage rates lower for the week - The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey taken on January 9, 2010 reported mortgage rates for the most popular loan products as follows: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 3.64%, down from 3.74% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.07%, down from 3.16% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.30%, down from 3.46% last week.