A:

Getting bond quotes and general information about a bond issue is considerably more difficult than researching a stock or a mutual fund. A major reason for this is that there is not a lot of individual investor demand for the information; therefore, most bond information is available only through higher level tools that are not accessible to the average investor.

In most cases, if you have a brokerage account, you will have access to that firm's research tools, which may include bond quotes and other information - this is the first place that you should look when seeking bond information. However, there are also free tools available that provide some basic information. For example, Yahoo! Bond Center offers several tools that allow individuals to search for a specific bond or scan for a bond that meets an individual's specific investment needs.

For example, say you have a Ford Motor Co. bond that matures in June 2010. Go to the Yahoo! Bond Center and enter Ford Motor into the "Bond Lookup" tool on the left of the screen; this will bring up a list of Ford Motor bonds. Look for your bond in the list (it may help to use some of the sorting features, such as maturity) and once you find it, click the name of the bond. This will take you to a quote that includes the bond's current price, the coupon rate, the yield to maturity (YTM), bond rating and other pertinent information.

The Yahoo! Bond Center is a free tool that allows individual investors to access bond quotes. It is limited, however, in that it does not give you the volume of bonds that trade hands or a bid-ask spread, making it difficult to measure the true price of the bond.

To learn more, check out our Bond Basics tutorial and the Reading Financial Tables tutorial.

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