Mortgage rates maintained their upward momentum today, rising to the highest levels since late September after Janet Yellen confirmed the Fed's rate hike outlook. Bond markets (which include the mortgage-backed securities that most directly affect mortgage rates) began adjusting for that outlook last week after the Fed announcement. Markets saw a roughly 1 in 3 chance of a December rate hike before that announcement, and better than 50 percent afterward.
The Fed Funds Rate is a short-term lending rate that does not directly dictate longer term rates like most mortgages rates, but it's common to see the entire spectrum of rates move higher in anticipation of a Fed rate hike. Clearly that anticipation increased last week, and only gathered steam into the current week. With Yellen scheduled to deliver testimony at the House Financial Services Committee today, market participants reckoned she might make a comment or two that either validated or tempered last week's takeaways. They were right!
In not so many words, Yellen confirmed the shift in tone represented by last week's official announcement. Bottom line: the Fed looks pretty serious about hiking in December. That confirmation was worth a bit of extra pain for bond markets, hence the move higher in mortgage rates. The average lender is now back to 4.0% on conventional 30yr fixed quotes, with only the aggressive few offering anything in the high 3's.