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INTEREST RATES. Up and down -- but generally down.

Rates are well below their 20+ percent rates of last year. The prime stands at 15.75. But current pressures are for higher rates.

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That isn't expected to last long. By summer, the prime could have drifted into the 13 to 14 percent range. But economists aren't expecting it to get much lower than that this year.

Hope for home buyers. The 18 percent rates at the beginning of this year should sink to 14 percent by year's end, some forecasters say.

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