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Big whoop from the BLS

By Holden Lewis · Bankrate.com
Friday, January 6, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

We got relatively good news from the December employment report, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it had little immediate effect on the mortgage market. That's even better news.

The economy created 200,000 more jobs than it destroyed in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. In a robust economy, both of those numbers would look awful, but today those numbers appear sorta hopeful. It's like you had a fever of 105 degrees and it dropped to 104 -- a move in the right direction, but you'd rather be at 98.6.

The employment report delivered better-than-expected numbers. Normally you would expect mortgage rates to rise on better-than-expected news. And maybe that'll happen later. But so far this morning, mortgage bond yields actually have fallen, which implies a drop in mortgage rates. Or, more likely, you'll get better bang for your buck when you pay discount points.

Maybe investors read a few paragraphs into the employment report, to the paragraph that says 42,000 net jobs were created in the "couriers and messengers industry" in December. But how many of those FedEx and UPS drivers will still have jobs a month or two from now? Retailers added jobs in December, too. Again, not a surprise, and you wonder how many of those folks were hired temporarily.

In this week's Rate Trend Index, I predicted that mortgage rates would fall this week, and so far I'm right.

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