DEFINITION of 'Interest Rate Index'

An index that is based off the interest rate of a financial instrument or basket of financial instruments. An interest rate index serves as a benchmark used to calculate the interest rate charged on financial products, such as mortgages.

BREAKING DOWN 'Interest Rate Index'

Investors, borrowers and lenders use the index to determine the interest rates of the financial products they buy and sell.

The interest rate index can be based on changes to a single item, such as the yield on U.S. Treasury securities, or on a more complex series of rates. For example, an index may be based on the monthly weighted average cost of funds for banks within a state.

Many widely used financial products follow an interest rate index. An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), for example, ties its interest rate to an underlying index. Well-known indexes include the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the Treasury Constant Maturities index.

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