The Labor Department reported that Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits rose by 16K in the latest week to 360K, highest level since the week ended May 11. A year ago this time, claims were at 363K. The higher number is due in part to the July 4 holiday, the annual retooling at automakers where they shut down for a few weeks and temporary layoffs related to the end of the regular school year. The four-week moving average of new claims, which smoothes out any seasonal abnormalities, were up by 6,000 to 351,750.
Freddie Mac reported today that the 30-year fixed conventional home loan rate rose to 4.51%, but to obtain that rate a potential borrow would have to pay 0.8 in points and fees. This is up from 4.29% last week and up from 3.65% a year ago. Home loan rates have been rising since the May 1 lows, due to ongoing talk that the Fed will pull back on its stimulus programs geared towards holding rates low.
Don’t look now, but gas prices at the pump could be spiking in the next several days due to rising oil prices. The current national average is at $3.51, up 3 cents since Tuesday. Gas prices were higher a month ago at $3.63…unrest in the middle east and the summer driving season will push prices up in the coming weeks. In addition, inventories in the U.S. dropped for a second week.