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Read the fine print in job numbers

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A pleasant surprise in March hiring has pushed up all long-term rates: 10-year Treasurys to 3.94 percent, and mortgages to 5.25 percent. Even better news than the jobs: Rates could have gone a great deal higher. Other new data this week were as positive as employment: the Institute for Supply Management's survey of manufacturing in March jumped past expectations to the best reading since 2004, to a 59.6 reading. The level of industrial activity is still below pre-recession, but improvement is clear. Rebounding auto sales are pulling all the way through the supply chain -- from inventory rebuilding, to the shop floor, to raw materials. Sales were 10.4 million in 2009, and the pace now is 12 million (however, note the average from 1997 to 2007 was 16.8 million). Hot emerging markets are also pulling exports from our most competitive industries, notably heavy equipment and information technology. All financial markets have been locked in debate for a year, one side expecting...