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Which 30-Year Treasury Bond Does Everyone Quote?

When newscasters like those on CNBC report price changes and yields for "the 30-year Treasury bond," exactly what bond -- or is it a group of bonds -- are they reporting on? Obviously there are a great many 30-year Treasury bonds, with all kinds of maturity dates, etc.

-- Preston Kelly

Preston,

Whenever newscasters report the price and yield of the 30-year Treasury bond without specifying which one, they are talking about the most recent 30-year bond issued by the Treasury. Our ticker quotes the price and yield of that bond, which is the one to which we are referring in our markets coverage when we write "the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond" or "the long Treasury bond."

A little terminology may be helpful here: Besides the 30-year bond, there are three other Treasury benchmarks: the 10-year note, the five-year note and the two-year note. In each case, when you hear one quoted in a news report, the report is (or should be) quoting the most recent issue. Traders refer to the most recent benchmarks as the active issues or as the on-the-run issues. Older issues are termed off-the-run.

The Treasury issues a new 30-year bond three times a year, in February, August and November, as part of what's called the quarterly refunding. There's a quarterly refunding in May as well. At all four refundings under the current scheme, new five- and 10-year notes are issued. A new two-year note is issued every month.

For more information on the issues, the Bureau of the Public Debt's Web site lists bond and note auctions over the past year, with additional history available.

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TSC Fixed-Income Forum aims to provide general bond information. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell bonds, funds or other securities.

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