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February job growth stalls with only 20,000 new jobs added

The Labor Department reported that just 20,000 new jobs were added in February. It marked the fewest jobs added since September 2017. Experts predicted 180,000 new jobs. Considering January job growth was so robust, we are have still added about 325,000 jobs for the year. 

The unemployment rate dropped to a 50-year low of 3.8%. Average hourly wages grew 3.4% from last February, the highest year-over-year increase since the current expansion began 10 years ago. 

Stocks down for the week

Fears of slowing global growth weighed heavily on investors as stock markets closed lower every day this week. The Bank of Canada, the European Central Bank, and the Chinese Government all acknowledged that their economies had slowed and took measures to boost them.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 25,450.24, down 2.2% from26,026.32 last week. It’s up 9.1% year-to-date. 

The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,743.07, down 2.2% from 2,803.69 last week. It’s up 9.4% year-to-date. 

The NASDAQ closed the week at 7,408.14, down 2.5% from 7,595.35 last week. The NASDAQ is up 11.6% year-to-date. 

Treasury bond yields lower this week

The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.62%, down from 2.76% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 3.00%, down from 3.13% last week. We watch treasury bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yields. 

The 30-year mortgage rate was slightly higher in the survey, but rates dropped at end of the week

The March 7, 2019, Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.41%, up from 4.35% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.83%, up from 3.77% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.87%, almost unchanged from 3.84%  last week. Next week’s rates should be closer to last week’s rates. 

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