The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) was also unchanged at 63.6%, which is still the lowest reading in over 31 years. The LFPR calculation is quite simple. If you are 16 years old and not in the military, then you either have a job or you don't. The ratio of people "participating" or working is then compared to the total population. All in all, the Jobs Report was in-line with expectations and shows that the labor market is continuing to improve, but at an anemic pace.
The other big news from last week: The Fiscal Cliff was avoided after a last-minute deal was passed in Washington. The deal will shield millions of Americans from higher taxes and will extend Unemployment Benefits for the long-term unemployed. However, spending cuts were not addressed, which is something Congress will have to do over the next 60 days.
So what does this mean for home loan rates? Looking ahead, there is more uncertainty on the horizon as to how Congress will handle the debt ceiling, which is currently at $16.4 trillion and which must be raised in the coming weeks. There is also uncertainty after the Fed released the statement from their Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in December, which revealed that some Fed members think the Fed should stop their latest rounds of Bond buying (known as Quantitative Easing) sooner than initially planned. While Bonds and home loan rates did worsen after hearing this news, the continued uncertainty here in the markets means that investors will likely continue to see our Bond market as a safe haven for their money. This could ultimately benefit Bonds--and home loan rates, which are tied to Mortgage Bonds--in the process.
The bottom line is that now is a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance, as home loan rates remain near historic lows. Let me know if I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients.
- Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released as usual on Thursday. Now that the seasonal abnormalities are behind us, investors will be looking for the real numbers.
When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving -- and when they are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.
To go one step further -- a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes were on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.
As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates worsened after the Fed minutes were released last week. I'll be watching all the news closely to see what happens this week.
Researchers at UCLA have long known about the benefits of meditation. But a further report by Eileen Luders, assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, has revealed people who meditate frequently have larger amounts of gyrification--or folding of the cortex--which may allow them to process information faster than those who do not meditate.
Whether you've mediated before or not, taking a short mental break during the day is a great way to improve your productivity. Here are a few tips to try and to pass along to your clients, colleagues, friends and family members:
Commune While You Commute. Simply letting your mind relax twice each day, on the way to and from work is a great first step. While easier to do if you commute by public transit or carpool, it's still possible if you drive your own car by leaving for work a bit earlier. Focus on something very calming and specific. Perhaps a waterfall, waves on a beach, flowers, or a tree swaying in the wind--it's up to you--the point is letting your mind stay clear. If any other thoughts interrupt you, gently sweep them aside and continue to focus on your scene.
Pulse Power. K. Anders Ericsson, psychologist and researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that people were much more efficient working in clearly divided blocks or "pulses." The optimal time limit being about 90 minutes, after which the mind needs a break. The simplest way to remind yourself to take a time out is to download a free break-timer application such as Scirocco (PC) or Time Out (Mac)--or just use the alarm feature on your smartphone.
Daydream Believer. It's a fact that daydreamers score higher on creativity tests and come up with better ideas than those focused exclusively on work. Daydreaming is different than meditation in that you're filling your mind rather than trying to empty it, but the trick is to focus on things other than work or problems. Taking a 20-minute lunchtime walk as you let your mind wander freely is a great way to refresh both mind and body with a bit of fresh air and exercise.