Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mortgage applications plunge; Employment market data mixed

Some more news on the economic front this morning ...

* Mortgage applications plunged in the week ended September 26, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The purchase index dropped 10.9% from the previous week, while the refinance index tanked 34.7%. At 304.8, the purchase index is the lowest since February 2002. Interest rates were relatively stable (6.07% on the 30-year, down slightly from 6.09% a week earlier).

* The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas counted 95,094 job cut announcements in September, up 7.2% from August and up 32.6% from a year earlier. Computer firms led the list of announced cuts at about 25,700 in September. Automotive companies were next at just under 15,000, with apparel (8,350) and financial firms (8,244) next.

* On the other hand, the ADP Employment report was less negative than expected. It showed the economy losing just 8,000 jobs in September, compared with a forecast of -50,000. August's figure was revised down to -37,000 from -33,000. ADP says small businesses actually increased their payrolls -- by 28,000 -- while medium sized businesses trimmed 30,000 workers and large businesses shed 6,000. The goods-producing sector lost 72,000 jobs, while the service sector added 64,000 workers.

I have a hard time believing these jobs figures will hold up going forward, and the market appears skeptical as well. After losing a couple of ticks, the long bond futures are back around the morning's high.


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