“HI HO, HI HO, IT’S OFF TO WORK WE GO!” And even those who have been feeling grumpy about the weak labor market found something to smile about last Friday. The official Jobs Report for November was released – and the improving numbers were a big surprise to the markets.

According to the Labor Department, only 11,000 jobs were lost in November, despite expectations of 125,000 jobs lost. As you can see from the chart below, this marks the least number of jobs lost in nearly two years – since December 2007. Adding to the favorable news, the Unemployment Rate improved to 10.0%, when expectations were for it to remain at the 10.2% level.

While the news was good for the economy and helped Stocks improve sharply, it wasn’t so favorable for Bonds…and as a result, home loan rates moved slightly higher on the news, continuing their worsening trend for the week overall.

Chart: 2009 Job Growth/Losses (In Thousands)
weekly112309Last Week in Review

In other news, based on early numbers, 195 Million shoppers hit the stores and websites on Black Friday, which was up from last year’s 172 Million. Cyber Monday – the online equivalent of Black Friday – also showed an increase in web shoppers, up by 6% from last year. It appears that the shopping traffic was up, but the dollars-per-shopper may be down a bit. This might be indicative of not only consumers being conservative…but also the fact that with all the deep sales taking place to incent buyers, fewer dollars may be spent to get the very same merchandise as a year ago.


Forecast for the Week

The week ahead starts out a bit sleepy in terms of economic reports, with no major releases due until Thursday when the Initial Jobless Claims report and the Balance of Trade report will both arrive.

Friday will bring another shot of economic news when the Retail Sales Report – the most-timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns – is released. We’ll also get a look at the Consumer Sentiment Index for an updated snapshot of how consumers are feeling about the economy.

In addition to these reports, the markets will be watching the latest round of Treasury auctions. This week’s auctions include longer-term maturities such as 10-year Notes and 30-year Bonds that compete with Mortgage Backed Securities or Mortgage Bonds. So as we’ve been seeing of late, the auctions could cause some volatility, depending on how well they are received.

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, Mortgage Bonds hit a high for 2009 on November 27th, but traded lower last week due to financial news and a better-than-expected Jobs Report.

Chart: Fannie Mae 4.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Dec 04, 2009)

The Mortgage Market View…

Budget-Friendly Decorating Tips

The holiday season is a costly time of year. There are gifts to buy, parties to prepare for, and any number of other miscellaneous expenses. One expense that can really add up is the money put toward holiday decorations. Here are some budget-friendly decorating tips that go easy on your wallet while also making your home look and feel beautiful.

The Nose Knows

We associate the holidays with certain scents. Pine, cinnamon, and cloves seem to top the list. If your family celebrates Christmas, you’ve most likely got the pine part covered with your fresh Christmas tree. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, or if you’re partial to an artificial tree, you can ask your local Christmas tree lot about the branches they’ve trimmed off of trees and have no use for. Freebees like these can be used to adorn mantles, decorate coffee tables, or may be tastefully strewn across a dining room table. They add a splash of color and a fresh pine scent without the presence of a tree.

Regarding the scent of either cinnamon or cloves, there are several ways to achieve it. Two of the easiest and least expensive methods are the use of potpourri and scented oils. Strategically place two or three such items around the house, and you’ll be immediately transported into the holiday mode.

Lighting Is Everything

The good news is that achieving the proper holiday lighting doesn’t require you to purchase any expensive fixtures. Instead, start with candles and lots of them. Candlesticks, votives, tea lights, and pillar candles all have the ability to create mood through incandescence. Candlelit dinners seem to look and taste better, and movie watching in a candlelit room adds ambience to the experience.

The bad news about candles is if you shop for them in the wrong place, you can rack up a hefty bill in no time at all. If you’re thinking about burning a lot of candles this holiday season, it can easily turn into one of those unnecessary expenses. For an array of inexpensive candles, look no further than your local Ikea store. If that’s not a possibility, simply log onto and browse the nearly 100 different types of candles they have to offer.

Color, Color, Color

The holidays are all about color. If you celebrate Christmas, red, green, and white will serve as your color palate. If Hanukkah is your holiday, it’s all about blue, silver, and white. And if Kwanzaa is your celebration, look no further than red, green, and black. If none of these options work for you, there are always fall colors like brown, orange, and yellow.

Whatever your color choice may be, it is important to incorporate it into every room. Tablecloths and cloth napkins can provide the color in your dining room. In terms of the living room, pillows and throw blankets can serve as your holiday color accents. Even holiday gifts awaiting their opening can be wrapped in the appropriate colored paper. In terms of the rest of your home, be creative. Just make sure to utilize the colors that represent whatever holiday you are celebrating.

The Sound of Music

Music is decoration for the ears. Most of us have some sort of holiday-themed music somewhere in our collection. If not, pick up 3 or 4 compilation CDs that illustrate the holiday you are celebrating or look for 24-hour holiday-themed music stations through your cable or satellite service. Play these (on a lower volume) whenever you have a gathering in your home, or simply feel like getting into the spirit of the season.

But don’t stop there. Genres like soft jazz or classical music are also great to pipe into your living room during your gatherings. They add a soothing sophistication to any holiday event.

With just a little creativity, your home can look, smell, and sound just like you want it to this holiday season…without breaking the piggybank!

The Week’s Economic Indicator Calendar

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 December 07 – December 11
Date ET Economic Report For Estimate Actual Prior Impact
Wed. December 09 10:30 Crude Inventories 12/4 NA 2.09M Moderate
Thu. December 10 08:30 Jobless Claims (Initial) 12/5 NA 457K Moderate
Thu. December 10 08:30 Balance of Trade Nov -$37.1B -$36.5B Moderate
Fri. December 11 08:30 Retail Sales Nov 0.5% 1.4% HIGH
Fri. December 11 08:30 Retail Sales ex-auto Nov 0.5% 0.2% HIGH
Fri. December 11 10:00 Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM) Dec 68.0 67.4 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 not without errors.

Contact Curtis Schartz, Certified Mortgage Planner at Pulaski Bank with any questions.
816-347-1678 x-307



As your Certified Mortgage Planner in Lees Summit and Overland Park I am here to help guide you through the turbulent Mortgage Market and help you to get the best interest rate. Today Mortgage Backed Securities are moving with great volatility. They have already traded in an 82 basis point range. Current direction for rates is lower attempting to stabilize. Today the ADP employment report missed the mark to the low side fueling the volatility and helping bonds to rebound from the lows of the day. Additionally the ISM services index also came in worse then expected helping to support an improvement in bonds. The economy and job scene is not out of the woods yet. Poor economic news will cause the bonds markets to rise which leads to lower interest rates. The opposite is also true – positive economic news will cause bonds to fall and lead to higher interest rates.