Home borrowing costs were essentially unchanged this week and remain at historically low levels. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose two basis points to 2.80% last week with 0.7 in points and fees. It is up from 2.65% on January 7 of this year. The Fed signaled on Wednesday that rates will remain accommodative or low. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist said, “As the economy works to get back to its pre-pandemic self, and the fight against COVID-19 variants unfolds, owners and buyers continue to benefit from some of the lowest mortgage rates of all-time. Largely due to the current environment, the 30-year fixed-rate remains below three percent for the fifth consecutive week while the 15-year fixed-rate hits another record low.”
First-time unemployment claims remained stubbornly high in the latest week as the sector continues to encounter hurdles. At present, there are 9.2 million jobs available across the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Weekly Initial Jobless Claims came in at 400,000 for the week ended July 24, 2021, from 424,000 in the previous week. To put it into perspective, the week of April 4, 2020 claims were over 6 million as the shutdowns took hold. Continuing claims, or those receiving benefits for at least two weeks straight, increased to 3.269 million from 3.262 million. Many unemployed Americans should be able to go back to work as the enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire in September.
The U.S. economy grew at a brisk pace in the second quarter of this year but the growth was less that anticipated. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 6.5% in Q2 2021, below the 8.5% expected and just above the 6.3% gain seen in Q1. Personal consumption expenditures or changes in the prices of goods and services purchased by consumers in the United States, rose 11.8% and is a big part of the U.S. economy. GDP measures the value of the goods and services produced in the United States.