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Rate Update

The first Fed meeting of the year yielded no change to the fed funds rate, and was almost identical to the statement released the past several months. The Fed acknowledged stronger economic data, but continued to reference that housing remains depressed, inflation is low, and unemployment is elevated. The economic data this week focused on the housing sector. The S&P/Case Shiller 20-City Home Price Index dropped 0.5% in November from the month prior, the fourth straight monthly decline. Year-over-year, home values fell 1.6%, the biggest 12-month decrease since December 2009. Another home price index, the Federal Housing Finance Agency index, shows home prices were down 4.3% for the year. New Home Sales climbed 18% in December, the biggest gain since 1992, and was led by a record 72% jump in the West. Purchases climbed in three of four US regions last month. Sales in the Northeast decreased 5%. For all of 2010, sales fell 14% nationally from the prior year to the lowest level going back to 1963. Pending Home Sales climbed 2%, more than forecast, after a 3.1% gain the prior month. We also saw Durable Goods Orders fall 2.5%, depressed by volatility in demand for commercial aircraft, and Initial Jobless Claims increased by 51,000 to 454,000 in the week ended January 22. Currently, the 30 Year Fixed is 4.500% (4.661% APR) and the 15 Year Fixed is 3.750% (3.995% APR). Later this week we will see employment reports including ADP Private Payrolls, Initial Jobless Claims, Non-farm Payrolls and the Unemployment Rate.

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