Bond Trading Business Primer

The set of environments is not limited to these, for example, some organisations will have multiple test environments. Whilst every dealer will have different systems designs, the 7 domains will exist in each dealer environment. An environment is deployed in a geographical location. This page was last edited on 23 March , at Less vulnerable in the near-term but faces major ongoing uncertainties to adverse business, financial and economic conditions.

Per coverage by Pensions & Investments Magazine, institutional trading network Liquidnet is set to launch an institutional dark pool for corporate bonds, in the third quarter this year. Best known as a dark pool provider for institutional equities trading, Liquidnet is integrating seven order management systems, which execute securities orders, to provide the .

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The diagram below shows example situations for customers buying and selling with dealers. The dealer sets the prices that the customers can trade at. In general, the dealer will buy low and sell high. In the examples, the dealer is willing to buy at The price a dealer buys at is the bid price and the price the dealer sells at is the ask price. The ask price is also known as the offer price.

The difference between the bid and ask price is called the bid-ask spread also bid-offer spread. Wider spreads are better for dealers, narrower spreads are better for the customer but the bid price is always lower than the ask price. Dealers will always want wider spreads whilst customers will always want narrower spreads. Generally, dealers are not interested in holding bonds to maturity, they are interested in making profit from buying low and selling high.

Customers, in contrast, are interested in holding a bond to maturity or at least with a view to receiving the interest payments from a bond and typically re-investing them. How much a bond is worth can be calculated as its face value plus the remainder of the coupon payments, discounted against the time to maturity of the bond.

This is also called the yield-to-maturity and represents the yield you would get if you hold the bond until it matures. However the yield-to-maturity does not take into account the credit risk of the bond issuer i. It also does not factor in risk due to interest rate changes; generally as interest rates rise, bond prices drop and vice versa. In short, the yield-to-maturity is not generally used for calculating prices on the secondary market.

In practice, there are a range of techniques used to price bonds on the secondary market. The diagram below helps to illustrate this.

Usually the benchmark bond is a government bond. Typically the corporate bond price has a fixed spread from the benchmark. More advanced pricing techniques can use blended prices or yields from multiple benchmarks to arrive at the bond price.

For now though it is sufficient for us to have an appreciation that bond prices can drive other bond prices. This is an important concept in bond pricing for trading.

Pricing relationships like this are the basis for most bond pricing systems. Governments issue bonds to fund government debt. To ensure that the value of the bonds holds up and that the debt is not viewed as junk , governments place obligations that dealers keep the bond prices liquid on the secondary market by continually quoting 2-way prices.

A 2-way price is another term for buy and sell prices. This places a large responsibility and possible financial risk onto dealers to ensure their government bond prices are accurate for the market. These prices become very sensitive to interest rate changes and vice-versa. These obligations ensure government bond prices are always liquid which keeps secondary bond trading viable and stable.

The benefit to dealers that take on these obligations is that they are able to participate in the primary market auctions of government debt. Participating in these auctions has financial and reputation benefits for the dealers. In general, bonds are classified as either government or corporate debt. Government bonds are issued by governments and have a lower risk of defaulting because, in general, governments do not go bankrupt. Due to the lower risk, they also have a lower coupon payment.

This follows the concept of lower risk, lower reward. Corporate bonds, in contrast, have higher risk of default. As such their coupons are higher than an equivalent government bond. The pricing of the corporate bonds is generally done by pricing over government bonds. The global financial crisis in proved that the close relationship between credit rating agencies and large financial institutions could cause conflicts of interest.

For example, credit rating agencies gave the highest ratings to many mortgage-backed securities that, in reality, were close to the status of junk securities. To help you advance your career, the additional resources will be helpful:. Learn step-by-step from professional Wall Street instructors today. Bond Ratings Representations of the creditworthiness of corporate or government bonds.

What are Bond Ratings? Investment AA Very strong capacity to meet financial obligations. Investment A Strong capacity to meet financial obligations, but somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances. Investment BBB Adequate capacity to meet financial commitments, but more subject to adverse economic conditions. Investment BB Less vulnerable in the near-term but faces major ongoing uncertainties to adverse business, financial and economic conditions.

Speculative B More vulnerable to adverse business, financial and economic conditions but currently has the capacity to meet financial commitments. Speculative CCC Currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable business, financial and economic conditions to meet financial commitments.

Speculative CC Highly vulnerable; default has not yet occurred but is expected to be a virtual certainty. Speculative C Currently highly vulnerable to non-payment, and ultimate recovery is expected to be lower than that of higher rated obligations. Speculative D Payment on a financial commitment or breach of an imputed promise; also used when a bankruptcy petition has been filed or similar action taken.

Speculative NR The security was not rated. Rating Description Grade Aaa Obligations of the highest quality, with minimal risk. Investment Aa Obligations of high quality, with very low credit risk. By far the largest market for corporate bonds is in corporate bonds denominated in US Dollars. US Dollar corporate bond market is the oldest, largest, and most developed.

The second largest market is in Euro denominated corporate bonds. Other markets tend to be small by comparison and are usually not well developed, with low trading volumes. Many corporations from other countries issue in either US Dollars or Euros. Foreign corporates issuing bonds in the US Dollar market are called Yankees and their bonds are Yankee bonds.

This is a significant distinction as High Grade and High Yield bonds are traded by different trading desks and held by different investors. For example, many pension funds and insurance companies are prohibited from holding more than a token amount of High Yield bonds by internal rules or government regulation. The distinction between High Grade and High Yield is also common to most corporate bond markets. It is tax deductible for the corporation paying it.

For US Dollar corporates, the coupon is almost always semi annual, while Euro denominated corporates pay coupon quarterly. The coupon can be zero. In this case the bond, a zero-coupon bond , is sold at a discount i. However, this is rare for corporate bonds. Some corporate bonds have an embedded call option that allows the issuer to redeem the debt before its maturity date. These are called callable bonds.

A less common feature is an embedded put option that allows investors to put the bond back to the issuer before its maturity date. These are called putable bonds. Both of these features are common to the High Yield market. High Grade bonds rarely have embedded options. A straight bond that is neither callable nor putable is called a bullet bond.

Other bonds, known as convertible bonds , allow investors to convert the bond into equity. They can also be secured or unsecured , senior or subordinated , and issued out of different parts of the company's capital structure.

High Grade corporate bonds usually trade on credit spread.

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The promises of corporate bond issuers and the rights of investors who buy them are set forth in great detail in these contracts. Special Structure for High-Yield Corporate Bonds Bond issues in the high-yield corporate bonds (junk bonds) sectors of the bond market may have been rated: 1. Orders in the NYSE Bonds market are executed on a strict price / time priority. All participants have access to a fair, open environment that displays live, executable, transparent prices and allows traders to adjust and execute orders as they see fit. US Dollar corporate bond market is the oldest, largest, and most developed. As the term corporate bond is not well defined, the size of the market varies according to who is doing the counting, but it is in the $5 to $6 trillion range. The second largest market is in Euro denominated corporate bonds.