A little investment help from your friends: Tips from the library for bond investors…..

Library users who invest know that stock information is available 24/7 online via The Library’s free databases Valueline, Standard and Poor’s NetAdvantage and Morningstar.  But what kind of help can the library give with bonds?  Bonds are harder to research than stocks, especially prices, and the library has never really furnished bond price information.  But we do have resources to search bond recommendations and ratings and can offer some advice about searching prices.  A final piece of information from the library, particularly for the new investor, is an explanation of why bonds are hard to research.  The primary problem for the investor is that bonds do not trade on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, but on less transparent exchanges, and their prices are more complex, featuring such things as “spreads,” etc.

The Library offers two popular and respected databases that give limited bond information.  These are Standard and Poor’s NetAdvantage and Morningstar.  Under  company search options,  in both, you can look at current bonds and bond ratings.   Standard and Poor’s will allow you to screen bonds for purchase. Morningstar is a good source for finding bond mutual funds to meet your needs.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association runs an excellent website, which we link to on the SPL webpage  Click on “corporate market” and search by name of company for bonds offered and “municipal market” for municipal bonds. For the more sophisticated investor, you can also check who’s been trading and pricing the previous day for municipal bonds.

Another useful site, linked to from the Library’s investing resources page, is run by the US Treasury and covers federal government bonds. These securities are issued and sold at auction and resold by brokers.  It is possible to buy government bonds at the site and avoid commissions.  Click on “individual” to find all kinds of useful information, including the current value of bonds you hold.  Always check the upper tabs for “tools” for more search and transaction options.

You might also want to try these books: The Bond Book by Annette Thau  and The Strategic Bond Investor by Anthony Crescenzi. Both are available in 2010 editions and in download or paper formats.

Lastly, remember the library subscribes to Money Magazine and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, as well as many investment newsletters, so you can keep up with the latest trends!  Bonds are an integral part of any investment portfolio, and we all can use a little help.

~ Sally W.. Central Libary

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