In as strange a stew of news as you'll ever see, mortgage rates have risen close to 6.25 percent, led by the 10-year T-note's leap from 3.85 percent to 4.25 percent. Beginning two weeks ago, the financial markets began to trade on the prospects for government bailout of a fibrillating financial system. Then, yesterday, new economic data whiplashed them from preoccupation with financial failure to worry about inflation. Last first. The data surprises: reasonably healthy retail sales for November; a full stop to the rise in new claims for unemployment insurance (i.e., no increase in layoffs); a modest 0.3 percent gain for industrial production; and awful inflation numbers. November CPI jumped 0.8 percent -- 4.3 percent year-over-year -- and the all-important "core" rate rose 0.3 pe...
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