Standard & Poor's Corp. said it expects the market for mortgage-backed securities to remain healthy throughout 2000 but not to reach the record heights of 1998.

Origination volume is threatened by the possibility that interest rates will continue to rise, the ratings agency said. Indeed, the chief culprit for a decline in 1999 was rising interest rates. Rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages were at 6.83% at the beginning of 1999 but rose to 8.05% by yearend, the ratings agency noted.

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