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Job Gains, Rising Wages, and Strong Service Sector

Overview: While daily volatility was relatively high over the past week, mortgage rates ended the week with little change. The small rally following last week’s Federal Reserve meeting was offset by modestly stronger than expected economic data.


The Employment Report is typically the most highly anticipated economic release each month. In October, the economy gained 128,000 jobs, above the consensus forecast of 90,000, and revisions added 95,000 jobs to the figures for prior months. These results were even more impressive given that a strike by auto workers held back the level of job gains in October by about 40,000. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, matched expectations with a modest increase from September. They were 3.0% higher than a year ago, up from an annual rate of increase of 2.9% last month.

The second biggest report released over the past week was from the services sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Services Index rose a little more than expected, to 54.7. Readings above 50 signal an expansion, while readings below 50 indicate a contraction. According to this indicator, the services sector has been growing for 117 straight months.

Week Ahead

November 11 — Mortgage markets closed in observance of Veterans Day

November 13 — Consumer Price Index (CPI)

November 13 — Fed Chair Powell scheduled to speak about the economy

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