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  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% in March

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% in March, below the expected gain of 0.1%. Lower gas prices at the pumps are to blame for the first decline in 10 months. When stripping out volatile food and energy, the Core CPI was in line at 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, CPI rose 2.4% while Core CPI rose 2.1%, both 12-month highs. The Consumer Price Index measures the average price level paid by urban consumers (80% of the population) for a fixed basket of goods and services.

    Heightened tensions over Syria between Russia and the U.S. are giving Bond prices a modest boost so far this morning. President Trump tweeted that Russia should get ready for a missile strike on Syria after the chemical attack over the weekend. Several Russian officials have threatened to retaliate if the U.S. strikes. U.S. Stocks are lower on the headlines.

    Mortgage rates declined slightly in the latest week after climbing since the beginning of 2018. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) declined to 4.66% in the latest week from 4.69%. That rate carries at least an average 0.40 point added on top. Within the report it showed that both the refinance and purchase index fell 2%.

  • Job growth slowed in March due in part to some harsh weather across the nation.

    Job growth slowed in March due in part to some harsh weather across the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 103,000 jobs created in March, lower than the 175,000 expected. On the surface, it looks like a disappointing report, but as you dig deeper there are positives within the numbers. February Non-Farm Payrolls were revised higher to 326,000 from 313,000 while January was revised lower to 176,000 from 239,000.

    The U6 number, or total unemployment, fell to 8% from 8.2% while the Labor Force Participation Rate was steady at 62.9. Average hourly earnings came in at 0.3%, higher than the 0.2% expected while year-over-year wage growth ticked up to 2.7% from 2.6% percent in February. For the first three months of 2018, there was an average 202,000 jobs created, compared to 177,000 in the same period last year. The Unemployment Rate was unchanged at 4.1%.

  • After climbing since the beginning of the year, mortgage rates edged lower this week ...

    After climbing since the beginning of the year, mortgage rates edged lower this week giving potential borrowers some relief. Freddie mac reports that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell four basis points this week to 4.40% with an average 0.5 in points and fees added on top of that rate. Freddie Mac says that "though rates are up slightly from a year ago, a robust labor market is helping home purchase demand weather modestly higher rates."

    U.S. employers announced large jobs cuts in March after almost a year relatively low planned layoff activity. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that there were 60,357 planned layoffs last month, an increase of 71% from February's 35,369 planned cuts. Last month's total is the highest monthly total since April 2016. John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said, "Last month's plans may indicate that growth could be slowing down, especially as the market continues to tighten."

    The closely watched Jobs Report for March will be released tomorrow and always carries big headline risk for traders and investors. It is estimated that employers added 175,000 new workers in March after the blowout 313,000 created in February, while the Unemployment Rate is expected to tick lower to 4% from 4.1%. The ADP report earlier this week came in much hotter than expected - so it does set the bar a bit higher for a good number.

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