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What is Mortgage Par Rate?

Lenders have a different par rate for different types of borrowers, which is the base around which they have the ability to negotiate deals. The par rate will be based on the prevailing interest rate environment, with factors changing it slightly for different potential borrowers and the risk associated with them based on creditworthiness. Par rate is the fair market value of a loan for a person with certain risk characteristics, from a lending institution of certain size and qualities. The par rate is the reference point around which a borrower and a lender will strike a deal, even though this is often unknown to the borrower. If the lender, which might be a bank loan officer or a mortgage broker, gives the borrower a break on the front-end cost of the loan, the borrower might have some interest tacked on to the par rate to make up for it. Continue reading...

What is a Basis Point?

When percentages being used to describe a security are very small, basis points are often used to describe the numbers. A Basis Point (bp) is 1/100th of a percent, so 1% = 100 bps. This metric is used when discussing financial instruments for which very small changes in percentages can make a difference. For example, rates on single premium immediate annuities change weekly, and generally only by a few basis points. These small changes can make a difference competitively week-to-week, because a few basis points can translate to thousands of dollars of income over time. Other places where basis points are used include: advisory and management fees, moves in indexes and securities, bonds, and so on. Continue reading...

What is a pivot point?

A pivot point is a technical indicator used by traders to determine overall market trends over various windows. This indicator used to be solely the average of the high, low, and closing prices of the previous day, but modern trading utilizes different versions of this concept for day trading and short term analysis. In many cases, pivot points are now quick-reference tools used in intra-day trading that give the trader benchmarks and perspective as short-term price movements happen. How the trader calculates the pivot point depends on whether the point is going to be part of a chart with a scope of several minutes or the present day or present week. Continue reading...

What are Pivot Points?

Pivot points are quick-reference tools used in intra-day trading that give the trader benchmarks and perspective while short-term price movements happen. Pivot points are set by taking the high, low, and close price levels of a stock market index or individual security for the previous day or week and basing support and resistance levels from there by multiplying those numbers by simple factors. These multiple might be very simple, such as 2x or 3x, or using Fibonacci numbers, which is still a simple calculation if you have the Fibonacci numbers. These are meant to be very quickly generated on a piece of scratch paper, and because of their simplicity, they were a favorite among floor traders. Continue reading...

What is a Breakeven Price?

There will be a premium paid by investors for the right to establish positions using options. The price of the underlying security must move to a certain point for the options position to become profitable. The strike price of an options contract names the price that an investor can use to buy or sell the underlying security, but the breakeven price will be the strike price plus the amount of the investor’s premium or net debit. Breakeven price can apply to a multi-option strategy such as a spread, or to a single option position. Continue reading...

What is a "spread"?

Spread has several meanings in finance, but the most general usage is to describe the difference between the bid and the ask prices for a security, where a narrower spread would indicate high trading volume and liquidity. It also might refer to a type of options strategy in which an investor purchases two calls or two puts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates or strike prices. Continue reading...

What is a ratio call spread?

Ratio call spreads are options strategies where the investor combines purchased calls and short calls at the same expiration but with different strike prices. A Ratio Call Spread starts off as a delta-neutral strategy, which means that even if you have two long calls and one short call, the sensitivity of your overall position to move in the underlying is equal whether it moves up or down by small amounts. Continue reading...

What is a bear put spread?

A bear put spread involves the use of two puts, one sold and one bought, at different strike prices, with the intention of profiting from declines in the underlying stock. A Bear Put Spread uses two put contracts, one long and one short, in such a way to achieve a maximum profit from modest downward movements in the underlying stock. A long put is purchased a strike price nearer the money that the short put contract. Continue reading...

What is a Credit Spread?

Credit Spread is an indication of the default risk perceived in corporate bonds at the current time. The credit spread is the difference between the yield on the safest bonds and the riskiest bonds. How much does it cost corporations to issue bonds, in terms of the yield expected by investors in the current market? Typically, a higher spread indicates a more unstable economy. Buyers of large quantities of bonds tend to insure their purchases, and the cost of the insurance is usually reflected in so-called CDS's (Credit Default Swaps). The more expensive the CDS's are, the more risky it is to purchase the bond. Continue reading...

What is Yield?

Yield is a term which describes the cash return on a security investment, and does not include appreciation. Yield is the cash paid out of an investment in the form of dividends and interest received. The term does not encompass the appreciation of the investment, and it may be evaluated in different ways for different types of investments, so comparisons of yield across asset types is not standardized or recommended. Continue reading...

What is a time spread?

A ‘Time Spread,’ also called a Calendar Spread or a Horizontal Spread, involves the use of multiple options of the same type (either all calls or all puts), with the same strike price but different expiration dates. Generally traders will sell a near-term option (take a short position) and buy a far-term option (take a long position). The strategy is virtually identical whether calls or puts are used. Continue reading...

What is a vertical spread?

A Vertical Spread involves the strategy of buying and selling an equal number of options on the same underlying security with the same expiration date, but different strike prices. Vertical Spreads can be both bullish and bearish, depending on your view of the underlying security. If you use calls, you are constructing a Vertical Bull Spread, and if you’re using puts, you’re constructing a Vertical Bear Spread. Continue reading...

What is a Calendar Spread?

A calendar spread is a strategy also known as a horizontal spread or time spread, in which the investor uses two options contracts, with the same strike price, on the same underlying security, but with different expiration dates. The trader will “write” (sell) the near-term one (front month) and hold the one with the more distant expiration date (back month) long. This is a debit spread, since the investor will pay more to establish this position than is received from the short sale of the near-term option: longer-term options have a greater time value than short-term options. Continue reading...

What are Current Yields?

The current yield on a bond takes into account its annual interest payment but also the price at which it can be sold. The yield on a bond held to maturity is fairly straightforward. However, if the bond you are holding is trading at a price higher or lower than where you purchased it, the current yield would be different than the yield to maturity. For example, if you purchased a 5% bond at a price of $100, but the current market price was $90, your current yield would be significantly lower than 5%. To calculate, simply divide annual cash inflows by market price. Continue reading...

What is the Equity Risk Premium?

The Equity Risk Premium (aka, Equity Premium) is the expected return of the stock market over the risk-free rate (U.S. Treasuries). This number basically refers to the amount an investor should expect in exchange for accepting the risk inherent in the stock market. The size of the equity risk premium varies depending on the amount of risk of a portfolio, the market, or a specific holding investment, against the risk-free rate. Continue reading...

What is Annual Percentage Yield (APY)?

APY is an annualization of an interest rate which may be assessed on a different schedule, such as on a monthly basis, and is useful for comparing debt and loan agreements that use different schedules. Annual Percentage Yield is a way to compare products and loans with different interest rates and different schedules for calculating the interest. It is a calculation of the effective annual rate, and it takes into account the effects of compounding interest, which a similar calculation for APR (Annual Percentage Rate) does not do. Continue reading...

What is a bull call spread?

A bull call spread is a vertical spread that buys and sells calls in a way that benefits from upward price movement but limits the risk of the short position. Using calls options of the same expiration date but different prices, a bull call spread seeks to maximize profits for moderate price movements upward. A long position is taken in a call contract (meaning it is bought and held) that has a strike price near the current market price of the security or is at least lower than the other call contract used in this strategy. Continue reading...

What is a bull put spread?

A bull put spread is used when an investor thinks the price of a security is set to rise modestly. The strategy involves buying one put option on the security while simultaneously selling another put option at a higher strike price. A Bull Put Spread is usually a vertical spread, meaning the two options used have the same expiration date (and different prices). The lower-strike put option is bought and held long, while the higher-strike option is sold short. The short position sold will be at or just below the current market price for the security, and the long position will be at a lower strike price than the short position. Continue reading...

What is a put time spread?

A put time spread is an options strategy that has the investor implementing a short put and a long put at the same strike price, but with different expirations. Time spreads can also be called calendar spreads or horizontal spreads. A put time spread will use two put contracts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates. One of the puts will be sold short, and one will be held long (this is the nature of spreads). Continue reading...

What is a Yield Curve?

A yield curve is an illustration of the current duration-to-yield relationship for bonds of the same credit rating but different durations. As a general rule, the longer the duration of the loan, the more risk you take on (since you don't know what might happen with that corporation in the future), and therefore, you demand a higher reward (i.e., higher coupon). The yield curve for any bond (not just the US Treasury Bonds) changes daily based on many economic and market factors. Continue reading...