AgentIndustry News

Rising oil prices keep lid on mortgage rates

'Deeper economic slowdown' could come soon

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Mortgage rates are holding near 5.75 percent (30-year, fixed-rate, "conforming" amount with the lowest fees), and the financial market dynamic is straightforward: as oil goes up, then stocks, the economy, and rates go down. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's transient "soft patch" is muddier and wider than he insisted a month ago. CPI actually fell .1 percent last month (in a stable-price environment, as the energy component of total prices rises, the aggregate of others must fall – painful for business), industrial capacity in use is tailing, and everybody's leading indicators are going flat. The exception is housing, still very strong. There are limits to oil as a benefit to interest rates. At any moment, high and rising prices for energy can percolate into the general price structure; that brew would bring higher rates from the Fed and a deeper economic slowdown – a classic stagflation. On the other side of the trade, there is a strong likelihood that oil is ap...