03/12/2014 09:56 AM EDT. Chart data delayed at least 20 minutes. Market data provided by Reuters. Disclaimer
Yields are indications only and subject to change.
* Municipal bond data provided by JJ Kenny. Disclaimer
Bonds are subject to interest rate, inflation, and credit risk.
Interest rate risk is the chance that bond prices will decline because of rising interest rates. Interest rate risk should be low for short-term bonds, moderate for intermediate-term bonds, and high for long-term bonds.
Inflation risk is the risk that the yield on a bond will not keep pace with purchasing power. TIPS have minimal inflation risk because they adjust for inflation.
Credit risk is the chance that a bond issuer will fail to pay interest and principal in a timely manner, or that negative perceptions of the issuer's ability to make such payments will cause the price of that bond to decline. U.S. Treasury securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and are generally deemed to have minimal credit risk.
The lower a bond's credit rating, the greater the chance—in the rating agency's or advisor's opinion—that the bond issuer will default, or fail to meet its payment obligations. Unlike Treasury bonds, corporate bonds vary greatly in credit quality. Bonds that are considered to be low quality pay higher interest rates because they're more likely to default, thus exposing buyers to greater risk. Although the income from a municipal bond is exempt from federal income tax, you may have to pay capital gains tax if you sell the bond prior to maturity. For some investors, a portion of the bond's income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax as well as state and local taxes.