These numbers are bad news if you’re trying to buy or refinance a house

May 2, 2022, 12:25 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:15 pm
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board building is seen in Washington, DC, March 16, 2022. - ...
The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board building is seen in Washington, DC, March 16, 2022. - The Federal Reserve is expected to announce the first interest rate increase since the Covid-19 pandemic began at the conclusion of its policy setting meeting later today. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Bad news for anyone trying to buy a house or refinance an existing loan: The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note, which influences how much consumers pay for mortgages and a variety of other loans, briefly topped the 3% level Monday for the first time since December 2018.

Long-term bond yields have nearly doubled this year, largely due to worries about inflation and the likelihood of supersized interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. The 10-year yield started 2022 at a little above 1.5%.

Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions, so the big increase is a sign that fixed-income investors are growing more nervous.

The Fed has already raised its key short-term interest rate once this year, by a quarter of a percentage point, in March. That was the first hike since late 2018 and pushed up rates from zero for the first time since the Fed slashed rates in March 2020 due to worries about the pandemic.

But the central bank is now expected to move more aggressively with rate hikes starting this week. The monetary policy-making arm of the Fed meets Tuesday and Wednesday, and traders are pricing in a nearly 100% chance of a half-point increase.

What’s more, there is now a 91% predicted chance of a three-quarter point hike at the Fed’s subsequent meeting in June, a move not seen since 1994 under Fed head Alan Greenspan. That would bring the benchmark rate to 1.5%.

Although that’s still historically low, the massive jump in such a short period of time is what’s spooking Wall Street. Some worry that the Fed’s rapid moves will eventually lead to a recession, while others fear that the central bank is still behind the curve in its inflation fight and will have to resort to even more big increases throughout the year to catch up.

Still, one expert says that the dramatic spike in yields may soon come to an end.

“Treasury yields jumped at a pace and magnitude rarely seen historically,” Saira Malik, chief investment officer of Nuveen, said in a report Monday.

“A similar rate shock looks unlikely in the near term for a number of reasons: Much of the bad news (Fed hikes, inflation) has already been priced in,” Malik said, adding that, “bonds tend to be resilient following selloffs and during Fed hiking periods.”

However, the Fed is also likely to soon start unwinding its massive bond portfolio, which could put more upward pressure on bond yields.

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These numbers are bad news if you’re trying to buy or refinance a house