Rates are rising today, for the first time this month, in reaction to actual news and fear of next week's news. Mortgages have the potential quickly to depart March's sub-5.5 percent range in favor of the 6 percent-ish level of the prior four months. The damage has been done by reports of a surprise, though modest, improvement in confidence among consumers, and that the Fed may be succeeding in its effort to increase the inflation rate (to "reflate") from too-low, sub-1 percent territory. The University of Michigan's survey of consumer confidence rose to 95.8 in March from 94.4 in February. Expectations had been for a continuation of the decline that began in January, when in that single month, all the gains in late 2003 evaporated. "Consumer confidence" is measured by asking respondent...
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