Markets & Economy

Rates fall on prospect of US intervention in Syria

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In the last 24 hours long-term rates have pulled back from the brink of panic. The first leg down came as thinking replaced short-selling: The Fed does not want to abort the mini-maybe-recovery under way. The second leg came overnight with safety buying after the U.S. announced it will intervene in Syria. Somebody today with perfect credit and 40 percent down might get a no-point mortgage below 4 percent, but the 10-year T-note still sits at 2.11 percent, halfway between max-panic 2.27 percent and the 1.95 percent when Fed Chair Ben Bernanke scared everyone to death on May 22. This interest rate volatility has little to do with economic data. Maybe nothing. May retail sales crept up 0.6 percent, and industrial production was flat after two-straight monthly declines. The NFIB survey of small business had one of its best readings during the Great Recession, but not a breakout. For the time being, assume that all confidence surveys are boosted by better housing markets, although ...