During the last week or so rates went up around the world. The primary explanation is that growth expectations have increased because of better economic data. The S&P 500 Index reached a two-year high after President Barack Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts and the Treasury sold its remaining stake in Citigroup Inc. Initial Jobless Claims, probably the best leading indicator of the labor market, has ranged from 450,000 to 490,000 for most of the year. Jobless Claims were reported to be 421,000, down 17,000 from last week’s revised number, and the 4-week moving average dropped 4,000 to about 427,000, the lowest reading of the year. Consumer Confidence increased in December to a six-month high and the National Retail Federation forecast November to December sales will rise by 2.3% from the same time in 2009, making it the best holiday shopping season in four years. As a result of these developments, the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield reached its highest level in over six months, hovering around the 3.30% level. Some experts are also quick to note that year-end profit-taking by bond investors is playing a role in the recent sharp sell-off of Treasury bonds. Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.375% (4.509% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.750% (3.963% APR). This week is very busy with an FOMC announcement, Retail Sales, monthly inflation reports, Jobless Claims, Housing Starts and Building Permits, and Leading Economic Indicators.