Mortgage rates held steady Thursday following weaker than expected economic data. July Retail Sales fell 0.1%, an increase of 0.7% had been forecast. Weekly Jobless Claims rose to 558,000. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and suggested that economic activity is leveling out, rather than continuing to decline. Also, the Fed has decided to gradually reduce the size of its Treasury purchases beginning August 19 and will conclude the purchases by the end of October. The Fed expects inflation will remain subdued, and that interest rates will remain at low levels for “an extended period”.