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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Stocks open mixed following surprise housing-starts slump

Wall Street opened mixed, following data released this morning on consumer inflation and housing starts.

In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is down one-tenth of 1 percent.

The broader S&P 500 is just barely above water and the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down three-tenths of 1 percent.

New homes construction and building permit applications fell unexpectedly in October. Why? Builders were waiting to see whether Congress was going to extend the first-time home buyer credit.

Congress did extend it, so presumably November housing starts should tick up a little (but still be dulled by the fact we're moving into winter) but what this tells you is that the new home market is rebounding only because of government help, not because it's rebounding organically.

Elsewhere, inflation edged up a little more than expected, but if you take out the volatile energy and food prices, core inflation was modest. This surprises inflation hawks -- such as myself -- who continue to wait for a jump in inflation, thanks to the fact that the Fed flooded the system with new dollars during the liquidity crisis last year. But I'll be happy to be wrong on this one.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  November 18, 2009; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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