How Corporate Bond Spreads Respond to Equity Market Volatility

An old Wall Street adage says bond markets are smarter than equity markets, so when stocks encounter volatility, investors often look to the bond market for clues about the potential severity of equity market weakness.

The option-adjusted spread (OAS), a key data point, adjusts a bond’s yield for any unique features of the bond in an effort to make various bonds more comparable to each other. Since US Treasury bonds are generally considered safe-haven assets, the OAS of corporate bonds as a group is often based on a comparison to Treasury yields to determine bond investors’ perception of credit risk. The OAS reflects the additional yield investors may require to compensate for the specific risks in corporate bonds.

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