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Fed doesn’t blame shaky economy on oil prices

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Long-term interest rates made another run at the lows of the year, the 10-year T-note approaching 4 percent, mortgages briefly below 5.75 percent, but today both moved back up toward the baseline bottom of the last couple of months, aided by a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in which he indicated little concern for oil supplies or prices. Economic data continued on the soft side. Two near trend-changers: new claims for unemployment insurance popped up to 352,000 last week, the very top of this year's range; second, the University of Michigan's consumer confidence survey abruptly sank from 94.2 (and months in the mid-90s) to 87.5 in early October.  September retail sales surprised on the upside, but two-thirds of the gain was a spike in auto sales. Industrial production has been flat for two months, and capacity in use has once again fallen back from any increase beyond 77.5 percent. High energy prices "acting like a tax" get the blame for a shaky economy, but G...