Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A "WTH?" moment on jobs

Every once in a while, an economic report comes out of the blue that's so wildly off the mark -- so far from expectations -- that you have to say "What the heck?" (this is a PG blog, so I'm censoring what I really found myself saying a few moments ago!) That's what I'm doing in the wake of this morning's ADP jobs report for November. In case you're not familiar, ADP is a private payroll company that releases a U.S. job market report ahead of the "official" report that comes out on the first Friday of each month. The figures it released this morning show:

* Overall job creation of 189,000, much stronger than October's 119,000 reading and the strongest in ANY month going all the way back to November 2006 (258,000).

* By industry, manufacturing shed another 5,000 jobs (though this was smaller than the declines we've seen for some time, and the -12,000 reading in October). But service-producing employers added 197,000 workers.

Oh and while we're on the subject of outlier reports, the Mortgage Bankers Association says applications for home loans soared 22.5% last week. Refis jumped 31.9%, while purchases jumped 15.2%. That's the biggest surge in purchase apps since the week of January 5. Meanwhile, refi apps haven't been this high since July 2005 -- and they haven't risen this much in a week since March 12, 2004.

We haven't seen applications correlate as well as in the past with actual home sales, likely because more apps have been rejected and because borrowers have applied to multiple lenders. But the sheer magnitude of the gains is worth noting as it might indicate an uptick in activity in response to lower interest rates. We'll see.


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