Another new low for 15-year mortgage
The average U.S. rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to a new record low last week, and the rate on the 30-year fixed loan declined. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 15-year fixed mortgage slipped from 2.61 percent to 2.56 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1991. The rate on the 30-year loan declined to 3.35 percent from 3.40 percent. That’s near the rate of 3.31 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
Jobless claims at five-year low
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to seasonally adjusted 324,000, the lowest since January 2008. The drop points to fewer layoffs and possibly more hiring. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell 18,000, the second straight sharp drop. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, plummeted 16,000 to 342,250, close to a five-year low.
Productivity growth weak
U.S. worker productivity barely grew from January through March after shrinking in the final three months of 2012. Weak productivity growth could prompt employers to hire more if consumers and businesses continue to increase spending. The Labor Department said Thursday that productivity rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter, after shrinking 1.7 percent in the previous quarter.