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Mortgage rates spin out of control

Fed calms bond market with words on inflation

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The rapid rise in long-term interest rates that began two weeks ago today was spinning out of control Wednesday morning, pushed by news of inflation and a double-the-forecast report of March retail sales. However, a spate of contrary data this morning coupled with a pair of Federal Reserve speechettes has returned the bond market to a normal, befuddled state.   Shortly after "...CPI plus .5 percent... core plus .4 percent..." scrolled across screens, the 10-year T-note yield exploded to 4.46 percent, taking mortgages to 6 percent-plus, and hurting Fed-sensitive 2- and 5-year T-notes even more. That yield-curve flattening further closed the gap between the adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgage rates. Market debate on the Fed's intentions centered between a June tightening and an August one, and yields implied a pricing-in of two .25 percent hikes by fall.   Perverse-movers confirmed the market attitude, reversing inflation bets as soon as the fact appeared. You run up the price ...