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Excerpt from our Wall Street Breakfast, a one-page summary of this morning's key market-moving and stock-moving stories:

Mortgage Mirage [Wall Street Journal]

Summary: The Mortgage Bankers' Association [MBA] today releases data for its mortgage applications index. The index is up 20% since July as long term interest rates have fallen. But Northern Trust economist Paul Kasriel says the rise in mortgage applications is due to refinancings as home owners switch out of variable rate mortgates before they reset higher, and shouldn't be taken as a positive indicator for housing demand.
Related links: Soft Housing Market, Falling Commodities Prices Are Lowering Developer CostsMoody's Forecasts 3.6% Median House Price Decline in 2007Housing Bubble and Real Estate Market Tracker
Related stocks: Mortgage lenders Countrywide Financial (CFC), Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC), US Bancorp (NYSE:USB), New Century Financial Corp. (NEW).

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Source: Mortgage Applications Don't Indicate Housing Rebound