It was a good weekend whether you’re into sports or entertainment, with the NFL playoffs and the Golden Globes on Sunday night. Last week, we got manufacturing and employment reports. Let’s see if either of these deserve the title of Best Economic Picture.

Headline News

MBA Mortgage Applications

Overall applications were down 2.8% last week. Purchase applications were up 1.0%, but refinance applications fell 7.0% over the holiday week. The average rate on a 30-year fixed conforming mortgage was unchanged at 4.25%.

ISM Manufacturing Index

New orders were up to a 14-year high at 69.4, which helped growth in the manufacturing sector accelerate to 59.7, up 0.9 points in December. Any reading over 50 indicates growth.

Backlog orders are up one point to 56.0, and delivery times are increasing. While this may not seem like great news for consumers, it does mean that more hiring is potentially needed to cut into the backup.

New export orders are up, climbing 2.5 points to 58.5. Input prices are also on the high side.

Jobless Claims

Initial jobless claims were up 3,000 from last week’s revised numbers, coming in at 250,000. The four-week average rose 3,500 at 241,750. Initial claims in Puerto Rico were about double their normal average at 4,074, and the claims taking process is still being brought back up to normal after the hurricane hit.

Continuing jobless claims fell 37,000 to 1.914 million. Meanwhile, the four-week average is up slightly, rising 750 to about 1.923 million.

Employment Situation

There were 148,000 jobs added to nonfarm payrolls in December, well below analyst expectations for a 191,000 job number. Still, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1%, as did the labor force participation rate at 62.7%.

Average hourly earnings were up 0.3% on the month and have risen 2.5% on the year. The length of the average workweek was unchanged at 34 hours, 30 minutes.

Digging deeper into the numbers, there were 146,000 jobs added in the private sector, with the government kicking in 2,000 new openings. There were 25,000 jobs added in manufacturing, while construction added 30,000. Professional and business services, normally a huge contributor, added just 19,000, including 7,000 temporary workers.

Meanwhile, retail jobs declined 20,000, perhaps because retailers downsized their staff after the holidays. Analysts also wonder about the potentially increased effect of e-commerce on that number.

International Trade

The U.S. trade deficit increased by $1.6 billion to $50.5 billion in November, which doesn’t help the net exports number when looking at gross domestic product (GDP).

The reason for this increase is centered on imports, which were up 2.5% to $250.7 billion. That does show that demand for all kinds of items is very strong, including in capital gains, which are tied to investment in new businesses. However, consumer goods imports were also up $2.4 billion to come in at $52.4 billion. Oil imports were up almost $1 billion to $15.7 billion. People were buying more gas for holiday travel and prices were also higher.

The good news is that exports also increased 2.3% to $200.2 billion. Goods exports were up 3.4% to $134.6 billion. Exports of capital goods and aircraft were especially strong, but vehicles and consumer goods also saw increases. Services had a small 0.1% gain to $65.7 billion in November.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage across the industry, according to Freddie Mac, is below 4%. It’s a great time to lock your rate.

Average 30-year fixed rates were 3.95% with 0.5 points in fees last week. This is down four basis points on the week and down from 4.20% at this time last year.

Looking at shorter terms, a 15-year fixed mortgage was down six basis points to 3.38% with 0.5 points. At this time last year, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.44%.

Finally, 5-year treasury-indexed adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) saw their rates fall an average of two basis points to 3.45% with 0.4 points. At the same time last year, the rate was 3.33% for a 5-year ARM.

Stock Market

Traders really don’t seem spooked by the fact that the jobs report missed expectations. Every major index was up Friday, with stocks closing at record highs and the best start to the year since 2006.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the week at 25,295.87 points, up 220.74 points on the day and 2.33% on the week. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 finished up 2.60% at 2,743.15, rising 19.16 points on the day. Finally, the Nasdaq finished the week up 58.64 points to close at 7,136.56, up 3.38% on the week.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, January 9

Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) (10:00 a.m. ET) – Quicken Loans, the nation’s second-largest retail mortgage lender, releases data every month comparing what people think their homes are worth to appraisals. Similar opinions of value often make for smoother purchase and refinance transactions.

Quicken Loans Home Value Index (HVI) (10:00 a.m. ET) – Quicken Loans also releases data on home values, on both the national and regional levels. Homeowners can gain a perception of whether values are increasing or decreasing and get a better idea of where they stand in terms of equity.

Wednesday, January 10

MBA Mortgage Applications (7:00 a.m. ET) – The mortgage applications index measures applications to mortgage lenders. This is a leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.

Thursday, January 11

Jobless Claims (8:30 a.m. ET) – New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to report the number of individuals filing for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing trend suggests a deteriorating labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smooths out weekly volatility.

Producer Price Index (PPI) (8:30 a.m. ET) – The Producer Price Index measures the average change over time in prices received by domestic producers for the sale of goods and services.

Friday, January 12

Consumer Price Index (CPI) (8:30 a.m. ET) – The consumer price index measures changes based on the price of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers.

Retail Sales (8:30 a.m. ET) – Retail sales measure total receipts from stores selling merchandise and related services to final consumers. Sales are measured by retail and food service stores. Data is collected from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The jobs report was kind of a dud. The stock market came out of nowhere to give the Best Performance of the Week in an Economic Category and manufacturing won Best Economic Picture. In the previews for next week, we’ve got plenty of exciting housing data, some inflation metrics and retail sales.

Quicken Loans is closed next Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we’ll have it all for you next Tuesday.

If economic reports and mortgage rates aren’t your idea of entertainment, we’ve got plenty of home, money and lifestyle content to share with you if you subscribe to the Zing Blog below. This week, we thought you might like to check out seven little known facts about Martin Luther King Jr. Have a great week!

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