Index overview : A bond index and the Rolls Royce of European indices

04/01/2021 | 10:46am

This week, we head to the United States and Sweden. We're talking about an index that replicates the performance of the US municipal bond market. The FTSE USA Municipal Tax-Exempt Investment-Grade Bond Index is weighted by debt securities issued by municipal institutions rated AAA to BBB- by the S&P rating agency. We also talk about the OMX Stockholm 30, which outperformed its peers in 2020 and is entering 2021 on a high note.

Dow Jones, Cac 40, SMI, Dax, Hang Seng or Nikkei 225. Even those who are not familiar with market finance have heard of these indices. But what do they have in common? They are all indices that reflect the economic health of companies in a given geographical area. More precisely, they reflect the health of the equity markets. Some indices, rather than replicating a geographical area, will reflect the performance of a sector. We are less familiar with indices that give us the state of the bond market in a country or region. Although they are less well known, bond indices do exist. The FTSE USA Municipal Tax-Exempt Investment-Grade Bond Index provides an insight into the US municipal bond market. It measures (tax-exempt) performance. The index includes bonds issued (in US dollars) by municipalities or other public authorities located in the USA. The index is made up of standard bonds, revenue bonds and combination bonds. Combination Bonds are municipal bonds in which the interest and principal payments are guaranteed by two separate entities: the municipal entity legitimized by its "taxing power" and the financed project that will generate cash flows.Illustration of the revenue bond financing process

Source: Corporate Finance Institute
As the name suggests, the index is composed of investment grade bonds ranging from AAA to BBB- on the S&P rating scale. The average coupon is 4.7%, the average yield is 3.1% and the duration is 6.2 years (it takes 6.2 years for the cash flows generated by the coupons to repay the price the investor paid for the bond).

Source: FTSE Russell

In terms of sector allocation, transport, utilities and education are the most represented sectors. In terms of bond quality, AA-rated bonds are the most weighted in the index

Source: FTSE Russell OMX

Stockholm 30: A champion out of the white woods It often goes unnoticed in the global rankings, but this index champion hides its true colors. It comprises the 30 companies whose shares are the most heavily traded on the Swedish capital's financial market. The index outperformed all its European counterparts in 2020 (+5.8%) and is off to a flying start in 2021 (+16.4%). No stock is in the red in YTD performance: they range from +1.47% for Essity to +47.17% for Ssab

Source: marketscreener.com

The Swedish market is very promising and less valued than the US markets. Among the ETFs replicating the Swedish market, we can mention: iShares MSCI Sweden (EWD) focused on the Swedish market

.Amundi MSCI NORDIC UCITS (CN1) to benefit from a broader exposure to the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).

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