What a week. The headlines with market-moving potential came fast and furious this week as a host of political, economic and global issues gave investors cause for both concern and celebration. Meanwhile, mortgage rates continued to fall.
First, the January jobs report on Friday suggested the U.S. economy is still creating new jobs. Employment increased by 225,000 jobs in January, beating expectations of 158,000. Analysts believe a peppy economy and warmer than usual weather helped push the number higher than estimates. The unemployment rate in the U.S. is now at 3.5%, among the lowest rates in recent history.
The good jobs news followed a week of political turmoil. President Trump on Tuesday delivered a controversial State of the Union address on Tuesday, praising the health of the U.S. economy and nation as a whole, which was met with rebukes from his opponents, who claimed he made false and misleading claims.
On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate acquitted Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction. By Thursday, the President and his supporters were celebrating a week of victories. Meanwhile, the Democrats ended the week with presidential hopefuls Pete Buttiegeg and Bernie Sanders locked in a tussle over results of the Iowa caucuses, which were plagued with delays and inaccuracies. All the candidates have moved on to New Hampshire, with no clarity on the race after the long-awaited results in Iowa.
Finally, mortgage rates continue to fall. Freddie Mac said in its weekly survey that average rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage have fallen to 3.45%, the lowest mark in three years. One year ago, the same rate was at 4.41%. The plunge, precipitated by ongoing economic and political uncertainty, has been a boon for the housing market early in 2020 as homeowners rush to refinance or lock in low rates for their home purchases.