Stronger than expected economic data with a hint of higher inflation was negative for mortgage markets this week. Concerns about the level of demand for US securities from China added to the pressure. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week higher. First-time buyers purchased 33% of existing home sales. December Housing Starts fell 4% from November, but December Building Permits, a leading indicator, rose 17% to the highest level since March. The performance of the housing market varied in different regions, but to see improvement on the national level is encouraging.