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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance rose unexpectedly for a second consecutive week to the highest in two months, suggesting that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases could be leading to dismissals.  Initial unemployment claims totaled 230,000 in the week ended Jan. 8, up 23,000 from the prior period.

US Consumer prices rose the most in 40 years in December on a year over year basis rising 7%.  Energy, shelter, vehicles, apparel, and household furnishings all saw double digit increases.  Inflation can be described as death by a thousand cuts as it slowly eats away consumers’ buying power.

Mortgage rates have moved to their highest level in almost 2 years, and that may have potential homebuyers nervous that their affordability window is closing faster than expected.  Home prices are still gaining, and winter is historically the slowest season for the housing market, but mortgage demand from buyers moved higher. This, as the average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 3.52% from 3.33%, for loans with a 20% down payment. That is the highest rate since March 2020. It was 64 basis points higher the same week one year ago.

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