Treasury and mortgage rates have again reached their post-August highs, but still in tight ranges: the 10-year Treasury note at 3.48 percent and low-fee mortgages just under 5.25 percent. The producer price index fell hard in September, down 0.6 percent, the much-hoped-for re-building of inventories not yet under way. Initial claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose, back in the 525,000-550,000 weekly band. Early-week news of monthly housing starts (up 0.5 percent) and new building permits (down 1.2 percent) surprised on the weak side, and last week's minor up-tick in rates cut mortgage applications sharply: Purchases fell 7.6 percent and refis dropped 16.8 percent. Sales of previously owned homes jumped 9.4 percent in September, presumably in the race for the last of the $8,000 credit, but the National Association of Realtors' sales data is not supported by loan applications. In the last two years' crisis, the media and our own minds have each day provided a ...
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