Fixed-rate mortgage rates have behaved very well, still close to 5.75 percent in the face of oil falling below $50/bbl, stocks in an up-side technical breakout, improving economic data, and the Fed showing every sign of continuing to raise its rate. Tending to hold rates down: heavy bond-buying by China and Japan as they try to keep their currencies low to preserve their exports; inflation on hold slightly below 1.5 percent annualized; and despite opportunities that may flow from Arafat's death, Middle East worries maintain a substantial bid in the Treasury market. October retail sales rose .9 percent (ex-autos), better than forecast and a solid performance; and the first read on consumer confidence in November jumped back to late-summer levels, presumably in relief that the election is over. The Fed's .25 percent hike to a 2 percent Fed funds rate was no more a surprise than the assault on Fallujah, and neither had detectable effect on interest rates. However, the Fed's post-meeti...
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