New data tilts toward slowdown. The Philadelphia Fed index surprised on the downside, at half its forecast; new unemployment claims rose (this might be BP's gift to the Gulf); single-family housing starts and permits fell off cliffs, at 17.2 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively; and core CPI rose only 0.1 percent. Manufacturing has been the only strength, with industrial production gradually crawling out of a hole but still 7.9 percent below 2007. Long-term rates are holding lows nicely, with the 10-year T-note near 3.2 percent and lowest-fee mortgages just under 5 percent. Europe continues to stumble on the way to wherever it is going, all sovereign bond spreads there widening vs. German bonds. A quiet run. A plague has descended onto our land, and its name is: "No taxpaye...
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