For the week of Apr 04, 2011 — Vol. 9, Issue 14 In This Issue… Last Week in Review: The Jobs Report for March was released on April 1, and that’s no joke. But did the numbers give us something to smile about? Forecast for the Week: It’s a quiet week ahead when it comes to economic reports, though news from Japan and the Middle East may keep things volatile.
View: Identity theft is never a laughing matter. Check out these important tips from Kiplinger. Last Week in Review People say that “life is full of surprises.” And last week’s Jobs Report offered a few surprises of its own. But were those surprises positive, and what do they mean for home loan rates overall? Read on for details.
The headline Jobs Report number showed that 216,000 jobs were created in March, which was a positive surprise as this was above expectations. In addition, 230,000 jobs were created in the private sector, which was also better than expectations and offset a decline in government jobs. A small 2,000 upwards revision to February’s prior release added some more jobs as well. In addition, the Unemployment Rate surprisingly dropped to 8.8%, which is the lowest unemployment rate since March of 2009. Remember, the Unemployment Rate is derived from the Household Survey (exactly as it sounds, from calls made to households), and is considered to be more accurate than the Current Employment Statistics or Business Survey (again as it sounds, from calls made to businesses), which is used to determine the headline jobs number. The one negative within the report is Hourly Earnings coming in at 0.0%. This is the second month in a row where earnings growth is 0.0%. Why is this significant? If earnings don’t grow, people have less to spend and as a forward looking indicator on job growth, it shows that businesses are presently not under any pressure to raise wages. This means they may not have to hire new people as quickly because they may have room to raise wages for present workers down the road. Overall, the Jobs Report was a good report and reminds us that the trend in the labor market is improving. But keep in mind, while lowering unemployment is good for our economy overall – as are the other two goals (creating inflation and boosting Stock prices) of the Fed’s current Quantitative Easing (QE2) program – these goals can also lead to higher home loan rates over time. In fact, inflation continues to be a growing concern both around the world and here in the U.S., as several members of the Fed, including St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, have expressed concern that if the Fed waits “too long (to remove accommodative monetary policy) we will get a lot of inflation in the United States and around the world.” What does this mean in the long run? Like the Treasury Department, at some point the Fed will start selling some of its massive holdings and unwind their QE1 and QE2 purchases. And when it does, not only will the Bond market lose a buyer in the Fed, but they will gain a seller and this will make it hard for Mortgage Backed Securities and home loan rates, which are tied to these types of Bonds, to meaningfully improve.
If you have been thinking about purchasing or refinancing a home, call or email me to learn more about how you can benefit. Forecast for the Week With the nuclear crisis continuing to unfold in Japan, and the turmoil in the Middle East, world events may continue to surprise our markets.
Otherwise, it’s a quiet week when it comes to economic reports, but be sure to look for:
•The minutes from the Fed’s March 15 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee will be released on Tuesday. These always have the potential to move the markets, especially if inflation (which is the arch enemy of Bonds and home loan rates) is discussed.
•Thursday’s weekly Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims Report. Last week’s Initial Jobless Claims were reported at 388,000, just above expectations, but below that important 400,000 marker which shows that the labor market continues to improve. Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result. As you can see in the chart below, Bonds and home loan rates managed to end the week about the same place as where they began… despite the volatility. I’ll be watching closely to see what this week brings. ———————–
10 Ways to Guard Against Identity Theft When Traveling.
Follow these steps to protect your personal information when you’re away from home. By Kimberly Lankford, Kiplinger.com It’s easy to become a victim of identity theft while traveling, whether for work or pleasure. Follow these tips to protect yourself.
1. Let your credit-card company know if you’ll be traveling (especially if you’re leaving the country). Financial institutions’ fraud departments are becoming more vigilant about any unusual activity on your card, which can be a great way to detect a problem. But if you’re away from home when the bank calls to verify the charges, you could end up with a frozen account while you’re out of town. Avoid the hassles and notify your bank before you leave home.
2. Don’t automatically call back the phone number that claims to be from the bank. If you get a phone call or e-mail about suspicious activity on your card, don’t automatically call back the number on the message — that’s a common ploy by identity thieves to capture personal information. Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card instead. If the call was legitimate, they’ll be able to connect you to the appropriate department.
3. Secure your mail while you’re gone. Have a trusted neighbor or friend pick up your mail every day, or stop your mail at the post office if you’ll be gone for a while. Your mail can be a treasure trove for criminals — containing your credit-card numbers as well as personal information that could lead to identity theft. “There’s no greater magnet for burglars than a mailbox that is overflowing with mail,” says Adam Levin of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911. And don’t announce the dates of your travel on your Facebook page. That’s like issuing an open-invitation to thieves (see 5 Facebook Posts That Put You at Risk).
4. Weed out your wallet. Tourist destinations are often a haven for pickpockets, so go through your wallet and take out unneeded credit cards and personal information before you leave. Don’t carry your Social Security number in your wallet, and only take the credit cards that you need. Make copies of all of your important documents, such as your passport, driver’s license, health insurance card and tickets, so you’ll have access to the information if your wallet is stolen, says Levin. Leave the copies with a trusted family member or scan them into an encrypted file on your computer. Also keep a list of contact numbers for your credit-card company and bank with you, so it will be easy to call if your wallet is stolen or you have any trouble with your account.
5. Be wary of generic ATMs. Banks have been reporting an increase in ATM-skimming incidents. This is when thieves install a card reader in an ATM to capture your account information and PIN number, so they can steal from your account. Levin recommends sticking with bank ATMs at a branch to be safe. “There’s a greater level of security,” he says.
6. Check your accounts regularly for suspicious activity. “Spend a few minutes online every day looking at your bank and credit-card accounts, and make sure every transaction is yours,” says Levin. This is a good idea all the time, but it’s particularly important when you’re out of town and might miss a call from your bank about suspicious activity. Some banks offer a service that will notify you by text message or e-mail whenever a transaction above a certain size is made on your card.
7. Be careful with hotel computers. Don’t access your accounts or personal information on public hotel computers, which could have software that logs keystrokes and records your passwords and account numbers. And be very careful when using an unsecure wireless network, too.
8. Don’t leave personal information lying around in your hotel room. Keep your credit cards and other important information with you or lock them up in the hotel safe, says Levin, and leave your checkbook in a safe place at home, if possible. Safeguard your laptop computer, too, especially if it has account information that is not encrypted.
9. During long absences, freeze your credit. If you’ll be traveling for a long time and won’t be able to check your accounts regularly for suspicious activity, consider putting a freeze on your credit report. A freeze prevents potential lenders from accessing your credit report without your authorization, which can prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name. You can still make charges to your current cards without unfreezing your account. It generally costs $10 at each credit bureau to freeze the account and $10 to unfreeze it. For this precaution to be effective, you must freeze your credit report at all three credit bureaus. Contact Equifax.com, TransUnion.com and Experian.com individually.
10. Be vigilant after you return home. Identity thieves are known for their patience, and it can take them a long time to pounce. Check your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com for any suspicious activity — you can get one free copy of your report from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months, and you can stagger your requests so you can see one copy every four months. This is a good move for everyone to do, even if they haven’t left home in a while. For more information and steps to take to report ID theft, see the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Site. Also see my Tricks ID Thieves Use column for ID theft red flags, How to Avoid ID Theft for steps to take if your wallet has been stolen, and Your ID Theft Prevention Kit for more information about protecting your identity.
Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2011 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. www.kiplinger.com.
Economic Calendar for the Week of April 4-8, 2011 Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.
Economic Calendar for the Week of April 04 – April 08 Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Tue. April 05 10:00 ISM Services Index Mar 59.5 59.7 Moderate Tue. April 05 02:00 FOMC Minutes 3/15 HIGH
Thu. April 07 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 4/02 388K 388K Moderate The material contained in this newsletter is provided by a third party to real estate, financial services and other professionals only for their use and the use of their clients. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice.
Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is without errors.
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