The mortgage market has held all of last week's gains, and low-fee, 30-year fixed-rate deals are still near 6 percent. The 10-year T-note remained rock steady in a 4.45 percent-4.47 percent range. This stability after such a big gain is remarkable in itself, and astonishing in that the bulk of the rate drop was caused by weakness in a single monthly employment report, the most notoriously unreliable of data series, and at the beginning of a "measured" but presumably merciless round of Fed tightening. There are growing suspicions that economic softness may be more widespread than a single, anomalous report on jobs. We got only one tidbit of new data this week: "same-store" retail sales flattened in June to half the prior five-months' average gain. Gold and dollar markets reinforced speculation that the Fed may have to back down from a straight-line return to a 3 percent-or-so "neutral" Fed funds rate, possibly taking a pass as soon as its August meeting. $40/bbl oil is sandpapering th...
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