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Economy’s crystal ball: real estate

Commentary: Middle East, inflation are '2 things not to worry about'

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Mortgage rates are back in the 4 percent range, taken there by the 10-year Treasury note's drop to 3.42 percent, which has wiped out the whole early-February spike. We have Libya, oil, stocks, housing and the economy to thank, but how those pieces interact is not obvious. Arriving economic data is obscured by incessant "recovery" cheerleading among business media. Some news is pretty good: both consumer-confidence surveys found three-year highs, which may indicate some hiring. New claims for unemployment insurance are holding down near 400,000. Every measure of manufacturing is doing well, although scratching in at 15 percent of our economy. The "wait-a-minutes" are led by today's downward revision in supposedly corner-turning fourth-quarter 2010 U.S. gross domestic product (from 3.2 percent to 2.8 percent). Growth? Sure. Self-sustaining, accelerating ... not so much. Wal-Mart's sales in the last 90-days fell 1.8 percent. Orders for durable goods in ...