There has been some good news and bad news in the past month if you are a potential homebuyer or looking to refinance your current home. The bad news is that home loan rates on the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage have gone from 3.5% to around 4.5% in the latest survey.
The good news is that mortgage lending standards eased for the fifth consecutive month, reports the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The MBAs Mortgage Credit Availability Index report, which analyzes data from AllRegs Market Clarity product, the MCAI escalated to an index score of 112.3 in July, rising 2.2% from 109.81 in June.
The service sector of the U.S. economy perked up in July expanding more than expected rising to 56.0 from the 52.2 recorded in June. Readings over 50 indicate more companies are expanding instead of contracting. Of the 18 industries that were were surveyed, 16 reported growth last month. However, the employment gauge fell to 53.2 from 54.7.
Strong economic data this morning has pushed the closely watched S&P 500 Stock Index to an historic record level of 1,700 today as investors shifted over to more riskier assets.
First up was a government report from the Labor Department that showed Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits declined by 19,000 in the latest week to 326,000, below the estimate of 345,000. That was the lowest level since January of 2008 as the jobs market continues to improve. However, seasonal factors increase in July due to factories opening and closing for periodic shutdowns for retooling.
Over in the manufacturing sector, the ISM Index surged to 55.4 in July, above the 50.9 recorded in June and was the highest level since June of 2011. Within the report it showed that the employment component rose by 5.7 points to 54.4. A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 indicates that it is generally contracting.