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No comfort in new economic data

Commentary: Tight credit overshadows home affordability

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Long-term rates are behaving very well, despite all the inflation and dollar grumbling in the background (that talk has been wrong and is still wrong). Low-fee mortgage rates are very close to crossing into the high fours. In an unexplained oddity, the retail mortgage spread to the 3.45 percent 10-year Treasury note is the tightest since The Crunch began in 2007. Theoretically, as the Fed reduces its purchases of mortgage-backed securities, mortgage rates should begin to float away from the 10-year. Two explanations: Purchase mortgage demand has crashed 28 percent since early October, hence less supply coming to market; and second, economic data is settling into an "L," at last beginning to convince investors that the Fed is a long, long way from a rate hike. In this cycle I've become suspicious of almost all analysis from investment houses either trying too hard to sell recovery or trying to frighten clients into protective action -- and from traditional econom...