1. Mortgage rates hit their highest level since 2008, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey released Wednesday.
The average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages rose to 4.94 percent last week, up from 4.92 percent the previous week. That was the highest reading since June 2008, before the financial crisis.
Rates have been rising steadily since hitting a low of 2.98 percent in early January.
2. Home prices continue to rise
Home prices continued to climb in February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.
Prices increased 0.8 percent nationwide compared to January, marking the 12th straight month of gains. Prices were up 6.9 percent year over year.
In 20 cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., prices climbed at least 10 percent year over year. In some markets, prices grew even faster than that.
3. Unemployment drops to 8.1%
Unemployment fell to 8.1 percent in February, its lowest level since November 2007.
That’s down from 8.2 percent in January. Economists had expected unemployment to fall to 8.0 percent.
While jobless claims dropped by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, economists say they don’t expect the number to drop much further.
4. U.S. trade deficit widens
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade gap widened in December to $42.3 billion, the largest monthly deficit since September 2011. Exports fell 1.3 percent while imports surged 1.8 percent.
Economists had forecast exports would increase 0.5 percent and imports would decrease 0.2 percent.