Municipal Bond Trade Information

Municipal Securities Litigation and FINRA Arbitration Attorney, Russell L. Forkey, Esq.

In our continued effort to educate the investing public about various aspects of the securities markets, we are providing the below information. Because this information is being provided for educational purposes only, it should not be relied upon as providing legal or investment advice. Moreover, it is not intended to be complete in all material respects. If you have any questions concerning the information set forth below, you should contact a qualified professional.

Understanding Trade Prices of Municipal Securities

A municipal security trade or transaction is a sale of a bond by one party to another. There is any number of ways to find trade data on a municipal security. One such method is to utilize the tools provided by EMMA, Electronic Municipal Market Assess system. When using EMMA, there are two ways to find trade data. When you search for information on a specific municipal security, you will ultimately arrive at a Security Detail page. On that page, click on the “Trade Activity” tab to view any trade information available for reportable trades in that security occurring on or after January 31, 2005. EMMA does not currently provide trade data for trades occurring prior to January 31, 2005. You may also find trade data covering all recent securities trades in the municipal securities market on the “Recent Trades” tab of the Market Activity page.

Note: It is important to understand that many factors can affect the value of a security. Under certain circumstances, a trade price or yield may reflect additional considerations — unique to the specific market sector, market participant or circumstances of a particular trade — beyond the precise market value of the security at the time of trade.

The following items are disclosed in connection with trade prices, depending on your current view:

  1. Trade Date/Time — shows the time and date on which a legally binding agreement was reached between the buyer and seller of the securities. The trade time and date cannot precede the point in time at which the issuer enters into a legal agreement to issue the bonds through sale to the underwriter, even if the buyer and seller have informally agreed to enter into the transaction at an agreed-upon price prior to that time and date.
  2. Settlement Date — shows the date on which the transaction is completed, which is when final payment for the bonds and transfer of ownership of the bond occurs. Transactions in the secondary market typically settle three business days after the trade date – this is typically referred to as a “regular way” trade with a T+3 settlement. However, new issue securities traded prior to the official issuance of the bonds are considered “when issued” securities that settle only when the issuer has completed its issuance of the bonds and delivered the bonds to the underwriters for further distribution to the marketplace.
  3. CUSIP — shows the CUSIP-9 number for the securities. Trade data is not available for any municipal securities that do not have CUSIP-9 numbers.
  4. Security Description — shows the name of the issuer and the issue description — together, this is the full name of the bonds, using the industry-standard abbreviations for the security description.
  5. Maturity Date — shows the date on which the principal amount of the bonds becomes due.
  6. Interest Rate — shows the stated interest (or “coupon”) rate of the securities for fixed-rate securities. This will generally be shown as zero for a “zero-coupon” or capital appreciation bond, and will generally be left blank for a variable rate security, although this convention may not be universally followed.
  7. Price — shows the price at which the securities were purchased, expressed as a percentage of the principal amount of the securities.
  8. Yield — shows the yield, based on a “yield to worst,” that the customer may realize on an investment in the bonds based on the principal amount of the trade, the interest rate on the bonds, and the remaining period until maturity or earlier redemption.
  9. Trade Amount — shows the principal amount of bonds traded. Although the exact dollar amount is typically shown, an indicator of 1MM+ is shown for trades in an amount of one million dollars or more during the first week after the trade date. After a week has elapsed, this indicator is replaced by the exact dollar amount.
  10. Trade Type — shows whether a customer bought the security from a broker-dealer or bank, a customer sold the security to a broker-dealer or bank, or the trade was between a broker-dealer or bank and another broker-dealer or bank.
  11. Special Condition Indicator — shows whether any special conditions apply to the trade. Most trades do not have a special condition indicator. The categories of special conditions are as follows:
    • (A) Assumed Settlement Date — indicates that the actual trade settlement date was unknown at the time of trade, usually only seen in some “when issued” trades (see below). For purposes of calculating yield, the settlement date is assumed to be 15 business days after the trade date.
    • (B) Broker’s Broker Trade — indicates an inter-dealer trade done by a broker’s broker.
    • (L) List Offering Price/Takedown Trade — indicates a trade executed on the first day of trading of a new issue, either by an underwriter or another broker-dealer or bank involved in the initial distribution of the securities at the published “list offering price” for the security, or by an underwriter to another broker-dealer or bank involved in the initial distribution of the securities at a discount (or “takedown”) from the published list offering price for the security.
    • (P) Weighted Average Price Trade — indicates that a trade was reported using a weighted average price based on multiple transactions done at different prices earlier in the day to accumulate the total amount of bonds needed to make the transaction.
    • (W) When Issued Trade — indicates that a trade in a new issue security was executed on or before the final issuance and settlement of the issue of securities by the issuer.
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