August 10th, 2009 9:15 AM by Mel Samick
Friday's bond market has opened down sharply following the release of stronger than expected employment numbers. The stock markets are reacting favorably to the data with the Dow up 113 points and the Nasdaq up 27 points. The bond market is currently down 44 basis points, which should push this morning's mortgage rates higher.The Labor Department reported this morning that only 247,000 jobs were lost last month and that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 9.4%. Both of these readings were stronger than expected. Analysts had forecasted a job loss of 328,000 and an increase on the unemployment rate of 0.1% to bring it to 9.6%. In addition, average hourly earnings also exceeded forecasts with a 0.2% increase.Today's news was definitely negative for bonds and mortgage rates. It indicates that the employment sector is not as bad as many had thought. While it was still softening last month, it was at a much slower pace than expected. That helps support the theory that the recession may be nearing an end. In fact, some analysts are already stating they think it has ended. This is bad for bonds because economic growth often creates an environment with inflation concerns that make bonds less attractive to investors. The result usually ends up being higher mortgage rates as investors shift funds into a growing stock market.Next week is another busy one for the markets and mortgage rates. There are several very important economic releases scheduled to be posted in addition to another FOMC meeting that can heavily influence bond trading and mortgage rates. None of them is due out Monday, but there is relevant data or events scheduled for every other day of the week.