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FutureStarrA Bond Is
When companies or other entities need to raise money to finance new projects, maintain ongoing operations, or refinance existing debts, they may issue bonds directly to investors. The borrower (issuer) issues a bond that includes the terms of the loan, interest payments that will be made, and the time at which the loaned funds (bond principal) must be paid back (maturity date). The interest payment (the coupon) is part of the return that bondholders earn for loaning their funds to the issuer. The interest rate that determines the payment is called the coupon rate.
The initial price of most bonds is typically set at par, or $1,000 face value per individual bond. The actual market price of a bond depends on a number of factors: the credit quality of the issuer, the length of time until expiration, and the coupon rate compared to the general interest rate environment at the time. The face value of the bond is what will be paid back to the borrower once the bond matures. Face value is the money amount the bond will be worth at maturity; it is also the reference amount the bond issuer uses when calculating interest payments. For example, say an investor purchases a bond at a premium of $1,090, and another investor buys the same bond later when it is trading at a discount for $980. When the bond matures, both investors will receive the $1,000 face value of the bond.
Two features of a bond—credit quality and time to maturity—are the principal determinants of a bond's coupon rate. If the issuer has a poor credit rating, the risk of default is greater, and these bonds pay more interest. Bonds that have a very long maturity date also usually pay a higher interest rate. This higher compensation is because the bondholder is more exposed to interest rate and inflation risks for an extended period. (Source: www.investopedia.com)