Derivatives  |  

Fixed Income

Exploring Bond Futures: Mechanics, Benefits, Drawbacks and Risks

By  Rahul Kapoor
Updated On
Exploring Bond Futures: Mechanics, Benefits, Drawbacks and Risks


Bond Futures is a contract that puts liability on the holder to purchase and sell a fixed amount of bonds as specified in the contract agreement at a price predetermined by the contract holder where the other side is the exchange. Hedgers and speculators use these to safeguard or protect their holdings. 

Bond futures are financial derivatives that obligate the contract holder to purchase or sell a bond on a specified date at a predetermined price. A bond futures contract trades on a futures exchange market and is bought or sold through a brokerage firm that offers futures trading. The contract’s terms (price and expiration date) are decided when the future is purchased or sold. 

Mechanics of Bond Futures 

A Futures contract is an agreement entered into by two parties. One party agrees to buy, and the other agrees to sell an underlying asset at a predetermined price on a specified date. On the futures contract’s settlement date, the seller must deliver the asset to the buyer. A futures contract’s underlying asset could be a commodity or a financial instrument, such as a bond. Bond futures are contractual agreements where the asset to be delivered is a Treasury Bond.  

A bond futures contract can be held until maturity, and it can also be closed out before the maturity date. If the party that established the position closes out before maturity, the closing trade will result in a profit or a loss from the position, depending on the value of the futures contract at the time. 

 The seller of the bond futures can choose which bond to deliver to the buyer counterparty. The bonds that are typically delivered are called the Cheapest-to-deliver bonds, which are delivered on the last delivery date of the month. A Cheapest to deliver is the cheapest security that’s allowed to satisfy the futures contract terms. The use of Cheapest to deliver is common with trading Treasury bond futures since any Treasury bond can be used for delivery as long as it is within a specific maturity range with a specific coupon or interest rate.   

 Cheapest to deliverInterpretation.

Cheapest to deliver is the cheapest security that can be delivered in a futures contract to a long position to satisfy the contract specifications. 

Cheapest to Deliver refers to the cheapest security delivered in a futures contract to a long position to satisfy the contract specifications. It is relevant only for contracts that allow a variety of slightly different securities to be delivered.

Bond Futures-Advantages & Disadvantages 

Bond futures offer several advantages, which are listed below;

  • They provide liquidity, allowing market participants to enter and exit positions easily. 
  • They facilitate efficient trading, as they are standardized contracts traded on organized exchanges.  
  • Bond futures expose a diversified portfolio of bonds without the need for physical ownership. Finally, they also allow for leveraging positions, potentially amplifying returns. 

Bond futures also come with certain disadvantages which are the following listed below;

  • One of the disadvantages is leverage risk, as the use of leverage can amplify losses if the market moves against the position. 
  • Bond futures are sensitive to changes in interest rates, which can lead to price fluctuations and potential losses. 
  • Bond futures require ongoing contract rollovers, which involve transaction costs and the need for active management to maintain exposure.  

Bond Futures- Inherent Risk 

 Bond Futures are exposed to margining, i.e., A broker requires an initial margin and maintenance margin. Should the bond futures position decline sufficiently in value, the broker might issue a margin call, which is a demand for additional funds to be deposited. 

 In the context of Bond futures, Risks include the price of the underlying bond changing drastically between the exercise date and the initial agreement date. Also, the leverage used in margin trading can exacerbate the losses in bond futures trading. The risk of trading bond futures is potentially unlimited for either the buyer or seller of the bond.  

On the other side, Bond futures help manage interest rate risk by allowing market participants to hedge against adverse price movements in bonds due to changes in interest rates, providing a means to protect against potential losses or take advantage of interest rate predictions and market opportunities while maintaining liquidity in the futures market. 

Concluding notes 

Bond futures obligate the contract holder to either buy or sell a bond at a predetermined price on a specific date. Bond futures traders try to profit from price changes in the short term, and usually do not hold the contracts until expiry to avoid being forced to accept delivery.

There are benefits and drawbacks to futures trading—the consistently fluctuating market can increase profits significantly, but it also puts traders at greater risk.

If you’re looking for the best FRM course, your search ends here. Check out our course for comprehensive and top-quality FRM preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions

No comments on this post so far :

Add your Thoughts: