What is a BOBL Futures Contract?

A BOBL futures contract is a standardized futures contract based on a basket of medium-term debt issued by the German Federal Government.

BOBL is an acronym for a German term, Bundesobligation, which translated to English is federal government bond.

Understanding the BOBL Futures Contract

BOBL futures contracts trade under the symbol FGBM on the Eurex Exchange, an international exchange based near Frankfurt.

The underlying assets are medium-term bonds with maturities of 4.5 to 5.5 years and a coupon rate currently at 6%. The contract has a notional contract value of 100,000 euros with a minimum pricing unit of €1 and a minimum tick value of €5. Unlike most other types of future contracts, BOBL contracts tend to be settled by delivery.

The Eurex Exchange deals primarily in European-based derivatives. It is the largest European futures and options market. Prices are quoted in 0.01 percent of par value and contracts mature quarterly in March, June, September, and December.

In the U.S., these futures contracts trade on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) under the symbol G05.

The iShares Germany Govt Bond UCITS ETF (SDEU) is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on German notes and bonds.

Key Takeaways

  • A BOBL futures contract is a standardized futures contract based on medium-term bonds issued by the German government.
  • German bonds are among the most heavily traded fixed-income securities in the world.
  • Comparisons between yields for German bonds and those of other governments, including the U.S., are often used to evaluate relative economic performance.

The German Fixed Income Market

As in the U.S. market, fixed income futures based on German government debt instruments are traded actively for short-, medium-, and long-term maturities.

The BOBL is the medium-term maturity, but there also is active trading for Bund futures. These are the long-term bond equivalent to the U.S. Treasury bond, with original maturities between 10 and 30 years.

Schatz futures are short-term maturity bonds, having an underlying basket of short-term German debt with maturities ranging from 21 to 27 months. Schatz is also known as the short bund futures contract.

BOBL futures, along with the Bund and Schatz, are among the most heavily traded fixed-income securities in the world.

The BOBL is based on the medium-term security. The Bund is the long-term security and the Schatz is the short-term security.

Interest rates in Germany are closely watched. Spreads between similar maturities in Germany, the rest of Europe, and the U.S. are often compared to analyze relative global economic conditions, flows of capital, and government economic policies.

The benchmark 10-year yields and two-year yields are often used to compare conditions between countries. 

In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, central banks around the world embarked on a coordinated campaign to increase liquidity in order to resuscitate economic growth. This campaign resulted in many government interest rates, including some in Germany, falling below zero. During this period, German interest rates fell below zero for bond maturities as long as seven years.