Bond Market Research: Which Broker is Best?

(August 2012) Here is a review of the free bond market research offered by the 4 largest online brokers.

Charles Schwab E*Trade TD Ameritrade Fidelity
Credit Reports
For Issuers
Moody’s Moody’s Moody’s S&P
E-Mail Alerts
For Rating Changes
Yes No Yes Yes
3rd Party Research Offerings JP Morgan,
Ned Davis,
Credit Suisse
none Municipal Market Advisors (MMA), Briefing S&P Comments, Hightower Report
Comment JP Morgan report is the best comprehensive review of the bond market and rates. Clean market data display making it easy to zero in on the bond you want to trade. Weekly report from MMA is the best research for municipal bond investors. S&P credit reports offered are inferior to Moody’s and a big drawback here.


Winner: Charles Schwab Bond Market Research

Charles Schwab has by far the most comprehensive bond market research of the top 4 brokers reviewed in this report.  Their research includes:

Moody’s Reports: Moody’s analyst reports on corporate bond issuers and individual issues.  This is a great summary overview of all the information a bond investors needs to do their own credit research.  For more see our article Do it yourself credit analysis.

JP Morgan Research

Schwab has a relationship with JP Morgan which allows them to publish some of their research which is normally only available to institutional investors.  This includes the following periodic reports:

Weekly Market Update: This is the most comprehensive weekly fixed income report available to individual investors that we have seen.  Its a 40+ page weekly report covering all major U.S. fixed income markets. Each week’s publication begins with a cross-sector overview providing a holistic view across fixed income markets, followed by more specific market details for each key sector.  This includes Treasuries, Corporates, Municipals, agency bonds and more.

Market View: Weekly report covering fundamentals for multiple markets including fixed income, currencies, stocks, commodities and others.

Global Data Watch: Covers changes in economic indicators from around the world including a full section on just US Data.

Ned Davis Research:

Ned Davis is a well respected institutional research provider for both equities and fixed income.  Schwab offers their clients the following from NDR:

Daily Economic Report: Covering Macro fundamental issues including inflation and other indicators that are relevant to fixed income investors.

Monthly Market Digest: This is their monthly report on all markets including section on the bond market which is normally focused on Treasury Bonds.

Credit Suisse:

Asset Price Monitor: Every two weeks Credit Suisse publishes their asset price monitor which has a lot of good data for bond investors.  This includes credit spreads on different sectors of the market and the yield curve.

In House:

Bond Market Insights: Schwab’s in house research team publishes reports on the bond market bi weekly which you can find here.


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E*Trade Bond Market Research

Like Schwab, E*Trade’s bond market research has Moody’s credit reports for individual bonds which are critical for individual investors.  They also have a very unique and simplified way for displaying bond market price data which gives a really nice overview of the market and helps you zero in on the bonds you want to trade.

Moody’s Reports: Moody’s analyst reports on corporate bond issuers and individual issues.  This is a great summary overview of all the information a bond investors needs to do their own credit research.

Data Display: Etrade has a lot of data from yields to trade data on individual issues that are displayed in their bond center which makes zeroing in on the bond you want to trade easy. This is especially true for their municipal bonds section which allows you to click a map to see bonds by state as well as what they highest yields offered are.

Trading Ideas: The E Trade fixed income desk gives trading ideas by setting up screens for you based on a variety of factors such as “Bonds trading near par”

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TD Ameritrade Bond Market Research

TD Ameritrade has an ok bond market research offering, and the fact that they offer weekly MMA reports is a huge advantage in research they have for municipal bond investors.  Like Fidelity they also offer the ability to receive email alerts for credit changes in individual bond issues, which is a nice feature.

Moody’s Reports: Moody’s analyst reports on corporate bond issuers and individual issues.  This is a great summary overview of all the information a bond investors needs to do their own credit research.

Status Alerts: Receive an email alert when there is a moody’s rating or status update for specific CUSIPs.

Briefing: Multiple updates on bond market action throughout the day as well as charts with technical levels.

Municipal Market Advisors: MMA is the most well respected independent research shop in municipal bonds.  Their research is normally made available only to institutional clients.  TD Ameritrade clients have access to their weekly market update.

In House Research: They offer investors several in house research reports including a daily update on economic releases and a monthly report on the fixed income and currency markets.


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Fidelity Bond Market Research

Fidelity is a little disappointing on the bond market research front and they offer S&P reports on individual bonds instead of Moody’s.  In our opinion the Moody’s reports offered by other brokers are far superior.  They do however give you the ability to receive email alerts for credit changes on individual bonds which is a nice feature.

Standard & Poor’s Individual Issue Reports: Summary Reports from standard and poors giving a short overview of the factors the rating agency considered when formulating its rating.  No where near as comprehensive as the Moody’s report offered by the other brokers.

S&P General Market Comments: Weekly comment from S&P on ratings changes as well as what they are seeing in the market.

In House Research: Once a month or so Fidelity’s in house research team will report on different segments of the bond market.
Hightower Report:  Quick Daily 1 paragraph update of what happened in the market.

Alerts: Email alerts on credit status update and other triggers for your fixed income portfolio.

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