Overview: Over the past week, the coronavirus continued to be the primary focus of investors. The stock market posted some welcome gains, with the Dow Jones index adding roughly 2,000 points. For the mortgage market, Federal Reserve bond purchases have helped reduce daily volatility, and rates ended the week with little change.
The labor market data has been one of the first areas to reflect the impact of the economic slowdown since the outbreak. On Thursday, weekly filings for new jobless claims again far exceeded the expected levels. They rose to 6.6 million, more than double the consensus forecast of 3.1 million, and up from 3.3 million last week. Before the pandemic, typical readings were around 250,000. The reaction was relatively small, however, since investors know that unemployment levels have shot up dramatically.
Friday's closely watched monthly Employment Report also was weaker than expected. The economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, far above the consensus forecast for a drop of 150,000 and the first monthly decline in payrolls since September 2010. Roughly two-thirds of the losses came from the hospitality industry. The unemployment rate increased from 3.5% to 4.4%, well above the consensus of 4.0% and the highest level since August 2017.
Monthly Job Gains (thousands)
April 9 — Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims
April 10 — Consumer Price Index (CPI)
April 10 — Mortgage markets closed in observance of Good Friday
April 15 — Retail Sales report