Prepayment rates for agency mortgage-backed securities slowed across the board in the January reporting period, producing "the flattest refinancing curve we have observed since early in 2001," according to the Bear Stearns Prepayment Commentary.Speeds of Fannie Mae MBS were "marginally slower in the massive 5.0% and 5.5% coupons," whereas coupons of 6.0% and higher recorded declines of 17%-20% (representing decreases in constant prepayment rates of 5-10 CPR), said Bear Stearns analysts Dale Westhoff and Bruce Kramer. "After today's report, we find all 6.0% issues now paying in the low to mid-20 CPR range and all higher coupons paying in the 35 to 45 CPR range," the analysts said. "Many of these issues are now more than 40 CPR below their peak levels from last summer." Noting the recent drop in mortgage rates, the Bear Stearns analysts predicted that speeds will rise in the February and March reporting periods, but that "we expect this mini-refinancing event to be short-lived and centered primarily in new 5.5% and 6.0% issues." Bear Stearns can be found online at http://www.bearstearns.com.

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