AgentIndustry News

Oil, retail sales add grease to housing

Mortgage market commentary

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After a one-week pause, the rise in long-term rates that began over the holidays has resumed and is likely to continue. Mortgages are departing 6.125 percent for 6.25 percent, taken by the 10-year T-note's easy cruise through support levels to 4.77 percent. The cause: nothing fancy, nothing to do with Iraq, just good economic news and a little grease from $51/barrel oil. In this morning's news, December retail sales were far better than the weak hopes in the bond market: up .9 percent, strong in all sectors except warm-weather-suppressed clothing sales, and that performance followed a strong November. GDP forecasters are scrambling for revisions: the 4th quarter will come in above 3 percent instead of the 2 percent or less that had been so widely assumed. Other reports were minor affairs, but all point to a better economy. Mortgage purchase applications have done well since October -- maybe a warm-weather boost, maybe they'll be squelched by rising mortgage rates, but late fall was...