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So, One Government Rescue Program Working?

Who says consumers don't watch interest rates? Mortgage rates dropped to 5.47 percent at the end of last week, down from 5.99 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications to purchase a home rose 38 percent, while applications to refinance an existing loan rose 203 percent.

Here, at least is a tangible benefit from a government program, this one from the Fed's decision to buy GSE debt and GSE-guaranteed mortgage backed securities (MBS).

    • US Mortgage Applications Surge by Record Amount

Elsewhere:

1) Constellation Group up 20 percent pre-open after Electricite de France made a bid for 50 percent of the company's nuclear power assets. The offer is $4.5 billion, implying a value of $52 a share for all of Constellation (price closed at $25.15 yesterday). EDF already owns 9.5 percent of the company. A remarkable bid, considering Warren Buffett is supposed to be buying all of Constellation for $4.7 billion, or $26.50 per share.

2) Freeport McMoran down 17 percent pre-open as they suspended their dividend, cut capital expenditures and lowered their copper output. Copper prices have gone from $3.75 a pound to $1.50 a pound in the past four month, an unprecedented decline. Other metal companies, including steel companies, are trading down.

3) US Air is illustrative of the good and bad news coming from the airlines: the bad news is that traffic is down, despite capacity cuts. The good news is that lower jet fuel costs "will more than offset the decline in demand that we are currently anticipating," says US Airways President Scott Kirby.

    • November Layoffs Hit Highest Level in 7 Years

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