Rates popped up about an eighth of a percent last Monday (T-bonds to 4.32 percent, mortgages to 5.875 percent) in response to more Goldilocks data. Pretty good strength, but no dangerous heat. Consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in six months, the survey possibly showing an improvement in the job market, and certainly reflecting pleasure at the drop in gasoline prices. The housing market may be beginning to top out, as sales and starts of new homes are way off, but resales of existing homes are still cooking and the apparent weakness may be a seasonal distortion. Christmas retail sales were softer than merchants hoped, but overall probably OK; the traditional season no longer exists, as discounting moves a lot of dollar volume past the holiday, and no one really knows how to e...
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