Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

The underwater soap opera

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Mortgage and long Treasury rates are rising toward four-month highs this morning (5.25 percent and 3.49 percent, respectively) on a happy surprise in the job market. The monthly survey of big business "nonfarm payrolls" found an end to job losses, and got some confirmation from an abrupt drop in the last two weeks' claims for unemployment insurance. Other fresh data from November did not confirm: The twin surveys by the purchasing managers' association (ISM) came in below expectation and below October actual, the service sector declining sharply. The hunch here: The economy began to bifurcate in spring, big business and big finance stabilizing, even recovering (information technology and international sectors, for example). The weakness and pain shifted from Wall Street to Main Street, still deepening here on the sidewalk, false strength in economic aggregates in spring and summer now fading into an "L"-shape -- no matter how well the "big boys"...