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; most bond information is thus available only through higher-level tools that are not accessible to the average investor.
Stock market research is fairly accessible through a variety of financial news websites, such as Yahoo!, Morningstar, Zach's, and other research firms. Investors looking to see how an individual company or exchange-traded fund (ETF) performed in its last quarter and what that might mean for the underlying stock price have many news sources, both on and offline. A number of financial news programs report on stock market fluctuations, including news and events moving the markets. But bond market information is less frequently reported and is less readily accessible to non-institutional investors. Nonetheless, there are a few options for getting some basic information.
- Getting stock market information is fairly easy for investors, as there are a number of financial news sites and stock and fund trackers that provide information.
- Getting bond market quotes is much harder, as there are fewer online locations devoted to bond market information and less bond market information available publicly.
- Having a paid brokerage account gives a user access to that company's research tools. However, there is also free research available at more stock-oriented financial news sites such as Yahoo!.
- Going to a company's official web site and clicking on the investors' section will often yield more information as well.
Tools Available for Bond Market Research
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. One such resource is the Yahoo! Bond Center, which 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. (NYSE: F) bond that matures in June 2020. 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.
While the Yahoo! Bond Center is a free tool that allows individual investors to access bond quotes, it is limited 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.