Mortgage rates stayed near 6.25 percent this week, but gradually improved in the face of upward pressure from all news. January economic data have been red hot, but so was the weather, and we really can't tell the extent of distortion by the warmth. The employment gain, the best month for retail sales in five years, the surge in new-home starts and construction permits, today's wholesale "core" prices up by double the Fed's target -- that combination should have pushed long-term rates to new highs. Did not. The 10-year T-note approached the highs of last November, a now-crucial 4.68 percent, and fell back, by this morning all the way to 4.51 percent. The whole world of finance paused for Fed Chairman Bernanke's first command performance on Wednesday, ready to buy, sell or hide on any hint...
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