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Mortgage rates decline ahead of Friday's jobs report

Mortgage rates declined for the third week in a row ahead of Friday’s much-anticipated jobs report, Freddie Mac reported.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.91 percent, down from 3.98 percent a week earlier. A year ago, the rate averaged 4.14 percent. Other rates also declined or were unchanged.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor will release the monthly jobs figures. The Federal Reserve board has indicated that it is watching employment trends closely in determining when to raise interest rates. Analysts have been speculating that the central bank could raise the rate at the September meeting, but a weak labor report could delay an increase.

"All eyes are on the upcoming July employment report, as the Fed has made it clear developments in the labor market will affect the timing of any potential rate hike,” said Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, in a news release.  

Becketti said that early indicators suggest that July labor figures will be disappointing, noting that the employment cost index rose just 0.3 percent in the second quarter, the lowest quarterly increase in 33 years. Also, the ADP Private Employment Report did not meet expectations for July. He said uncertainty about the economy drove down Treasury yields.  


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