Mortgage rates inched higher Friday but remained below levels seen since 2003. The Producer Price Index fell 2.2% in November while the more closely watched “core” rate, excluding volatile food and energy components, rose 0.1%, as expected. Retail Sales fell 1.8% in November, slightly less than consensus. The Treasury announced plans to prevent US auto manufacturers from failure until Congress reconvenes by tapping into the $700 billion TARP funds. Consumer Confidence rose unexpectedly in December on declining energy costs. Stocks and oil prices moved lower.