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Trading financial products on margin carries a high risk and is not suitable for all investors. Ensure you fully understand the risks and take appropriate care to manage your risk.

Trading financial products on margin carries a high degree of risk and is not suitable for all investors. Please ensure you fully understand the risks and take appropriate care to manage your risk.

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Trading Terms

Bonds investing: What you need to know

Bonds investing: A trader in a suit walks down the street preparing to invest in bonds.

Have you ever wondered how big companies or governments finance their operations? One answer lies in the world of bond investing. Bonds are essentially loans made by investors to companies, governments, or other organizations in exchange for regular interest payments and a promise to repay the principal amount at a later date.

This makes them a popular and reliable form of investment for individuals looking for a stable source of income or those seeking to diversify their investment portfolio. But with so many different types of bonds available and a constantly evolving market, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this guide, we'll explore the basics of bond investing, including how bonds work, the different types of bonds available, and the risks and benefits associated with investing in them.

What are bonds?

Picture this: you've got a big idea for a business, but you don't have enough money to bring it to life. So, you decide to borrow money from investors, and as a consideration of them lending you money, a bond is issued and given from the borrower side.

In finance, bonds are like IOUs that companies, governments, or other organizations use to borrow money from investors. When you buy a bond, you're basically lending money to the issuer in exchange for a promise that they'll pay you back with interest over a set period of time.

Think of it like a fancy loan agreement with a specific repayment date and interest rate. But what makes bonds unique is that they can be bought and sold on financial markets, just like stocks. This means that investors can buy and sell bonds to make a profit or manage risk.

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They are an important part of the financial ecosystem because they allow organizations to raise money for big projects, such as building infrastructure or expanding their business. And for investors, bonds offer a relatively low-risk way to earn a steady income stream.

So next time you hear someone talking about bonds, think of it like a financial IOU that can help businesses grow and give investors a chance to earn some extra cash.

How do they work?

As you’ve seen, bonds work by allowing organizations, such as governments or companies, to borrow money from investors by issuing bonds. The issuer promises to pay back the money at a later date, along with interest payments to compensate the investor for the use of their money.

The size of the interest payments, also known as the coupon rate, is determined by several factors. The first is the creditworthiness of the issuer, as determined by credit rating agencies such as Moody's, Fitch, and SPX. These agencies assign a credit rating to the issuer, which reflects their ability to repay the borrowed money. The higher the credit rating, the lower the interest rate the issuer will have to pay to attract investors. Another factor that determines the interest rate is the term of the bond, or how long until it matures. Bonds with longer maturities generally have higher interest rates because there is more risk associated with lending money over a longer period of time.

In addition, market conditions such as inflation and interest rates may also affect the interest rate of bonds. When inflation is high, investors will demand higher interest rates to compensate for the loss of purchasing power over time.

Types of bonds

There are several types of bonds, but two of the most common are public debt securities and corporate bonds.

  1. Public debt securities:  These are bonds issued by governments or governmental agencies, also known as sovereign bonds. The issuing entities can be national governments, states, cities, or other political subdivisions. Investors buy these bonds as a way to lend money to the government, and in return, they receive regular interest payments and repayment of the principal when the bond matures. The creditworthiness of the issuing government or agency is a key factor in determining the interest rate paid to investors.
  2. Corporate bonds:  These are bonds issued by companies to raise capital. When investors buy corporate bonds, they lend money to the company and receive regular interest payments and repayment of the principal when the bond matures. The creditworthiness of the issuing company is an important factor in determining the interest rate paid to investors.

US Treasury bonds, also known as T-bonds, are a type of public debt security issued by the US government. They are regarded as a highly secure investment option due to the fact that they are supported by the complete trust and creditworthiness of the United States government. This means that investors are virtually guaranteed to receive their money back with interest.

They are typically issued with maturities ranging from 10 to 30 years, and they pay a fixed interest rate every six months until maturity. The three most common types of US Treasury bonds are:

  1. T-bills:  These are short-term bonds with maturities of one year or less. These are typically issued at a price lower than their nominal value and do not generate interest until they reach their maturity date.
  2. T-notes:  These are intermediate-term bonds with maturities ranging from 2 to 10 years. Until they reach maturity, they provide a set interest rate every six months.
  3. T-bonds:  These are long-term bonds with maturities ranging from 10 to 30 years. Until they mature, they offer a consistent interest rate paid every six months.

How to trade bonds

Trading bonds may be a great way to diversify your investment portfolio and earn a steady stream of income. Here are the basic steps to trade them:

  1. Understand the basics:  A bond is a debt instrument that a company or government issues to raise money. Purchasing a bond essentially means that you are providing a loan to the entity that issued it. The issuer agrees to pay you back the principal (the amount you lent) with interest at a future date.
  2. Choose the type:  Bonds can be issued by corporations, municipalities, or governments. They also vary in terms of maturity (the length of time until it is paid back), interest rate, and credit rating. You should choose a bond that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance.
  3. Research the issuer:  Before investing in a bond, it's important to research the issuer's financial health and creditworthiness. You can find this information in the bond's prospectus, which is a document that outlines the bond's terms and conditions.
  4. Determine the price:  The price of a bond is determined by supply and demand. If there are more buyers than sellers, the price will go up. In the event that the number of buyers exceeds that of sellers, the price will increase.
  5. Buy it:  Once you've chosen the bond you want to invest in, you can buy it through a broker or an online trading platform. You'll need to provide the issuer with your personal information, including your name, address, and social security number.
  6. Hold or sell it:  You can hold the bond until it matures and collect the principal and interest payments. Alternatively, you can sell the bond on the secondary market before it matures. The price you receive will depend on market conditions and the bond's credit rating.

Risk and reward in trading bonds

Bonds offer potential rewards in the form of a steady stream of income, but they also carry certain risks, such as market risk, credit risk, and currency risk. While US Treasuries are generally considered to have a low risk of default, corporate bonds' credit risk depends on the financial stability of the issuer.

  • Market risk: This refers to the possibility of the bond's value fluctuating due to market conditions such as interest rates or inflation. Interest rate changes may cause the bond's value to fluctuate, which may result in a loss of principal for the investor.
  • Currency risk: It arises when the bond is denominated in a currency other than the investor's home currency, leading to potential losses due to changes in exchange rates.
  • Credit risk: It refers to the probability of an issuer failing to make interest or principal payments on time or defaulting on its debt obligations altogether. The creditworthiness of the issuer and the bond's credit rating determine credit risk. Bonds with high credit ratings are considered less risky and typically offer lower yields than those with lower ratings, which are considered to be riskier.

Despite these risks, bonds offer potential rewards in the form of regular interest payments and the potential for capital appreciation. Bonds with higher yields may generate more significant returns, but they typically come with higher risk. Conversely, bonds with lower yields may be less risky, but they generate less income for investors.

BUND and TNOTE

BUND and TNOTE are types of government bonds issued by the German and US governments, respectively. Both are considered low-risk investments due to the strong creditworthiness of the respective governments that issue them. You can trade BUND and TNOTE with Skilling today.

  •  BUNDs are fixed-income securities with maturities of up to 30 years, and they are denominated in euros. They are issued by the German government to finance its public debt, and they are traded on the Eurex Exchange, which is based in Germany.
  • TNOTEs, on the other hand, are US government bonds with maturities ranging from 2 to 10 years. They are issued by the US Treasury to finance the government's public debt, and they are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which is a futures exchange based in the US.

Both BUNDs and TNOTEs can be traded using Skilling, which is an online trading platform that offers access to a variety of financial instruments, including bonds. Skilling provides traders with access to real-time market data, advanced charting tools, and a range of order types, allowing them to make informed trading decisions. The platform also offers a range of risk management tools, such as stop-loss orders, which can help traders minimize their exposure to potential losses.

Conclusion

Understanding the basics of bond investing is an essential step towards building a diversified investment portfolio. They could provide stability, income, and capital preservation, making them a popular choice among investors of all levels. By knowing the different types of bonds, their features, and risks, you could make informed investment decisions that align with your financial goals.

However, investing in bonds is not a one-time event. It requires constant monitoring and adjustment to maintain an optimal balance of risk and return. Therefore, it's crucial to keep up with market developments and stay informed about the performance of your investments.

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.

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