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The Herbal Bath & Body Book

by Catriona Tudor Erler

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Walk This Way

by Jeanine Matlow

If you are interested in reading the full article, click here.

Weekly Economic Update

by Andy Block

Job growth continues despite freeze; Wages show meager increase, and Factory orders sluggish.  Here is what we are watching:

Headline employment numbers on Friday made investors wary. Markets were volatile as the leading equity indexes moved sharply lower and mortgage rates nudged higher. So what is all the fuss?

Employers added 295,000 jobs in February with growth in all sectors and regions.  The unemployment rate dropped to 5.5%, the lowest level since May, 2008. Job growth has exceeded 200,000 for 12 months, the longest such streak since 1995. With small business reporting unfilled job openings at the highest level since April 2006, it is reasonable to expect continued strength in the labor market. 

 

Have the odds of a June rate increase by the Federal Reserve gone up?  Probably.  However, look below the headline numbers and there are plenty of reasons the Fed could decide to hold off on hiking rates until later in the year:

  • Growth in factory orders fell for the 6th straight month in January, which is the longest stretch since start of the Great Recession.  Export orders are contracting.
  • The unemployment rate declined, but total workforce participation fell as more Americans dropped out of the labor force.  And wage growth remains sluggish. Average hourly earnings rose a meager 0.1% in February. Fed Chair Yellen noted last week that wage growth was a significant factor in determining when to raise rates
  • Initial jobless claims rose 7,000 to a much higher-than-expected 320,000 last week. The 4-week average is above 300,000 and trending roughly 5,000 higher than a month ago – this is at odds with an improving labor market.  
  • Inflation is still well below the Fed's 2% target thanks to lower energy costs

That being said, big events in the news hint at reasons why the Fed may ultimately decide in favor of a June rate increase:

  • Walmart, the nation’s biggest employer announced a wage hike for its lowest paid workers - this may be an early indication that wages will start to move higher. 
  • West Coast port delays and severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest have not slowed job growth, unlike the polar vortex in 2014 which throttled the economy. This increases expectations for a jump in consumer spending once these temporary factors have lifted.

The next big Federal Reserve meeting is on March 17-18. Look for the word “patience”, because if this has worn out, short-term rates could be heading up in June.

 

While Opes Advisors, Inc. uses all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information contained in this email is current, accurate and complete on the date of publication, no representations or warranties are made (express or implied) as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of such information. Opes Advisors, Inc., therefore, cannot be held liable for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the use of, or any action taken in reliance on, any information appearing in this email.

 

 

Andy Block

Mortgage Advisor ǀ Personal Finance Advisor

NMLS 293174

 

Reverse Mortgage Specialist

 

411 Borel Avenue, Suite 320, San Mateo, CA 94402

650.931.0605 D | 650.533.0756 C | 650.931.0601 F

ablock@opesadvisors.com

Spring Awakening

by Karista Bennett

If you are interested in reading the full article, click here.

Santa Catalina Island

by Maresa Giovannini

If you are interested in reading the full article, click here.

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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