- Credit default swap index
A credit default swap index is a credit derivative used to hedge credit risk or to take a position on a basket of credit entities. Unlike a credit default swap, which is an over the counter credit derivative, a credit default swap index is a completely standardised credit security and may therefore be more liquid and trade at a smaller bid-offer spread. This means that it can be cheaper to hedge a portfolio of credit default swaps or bonds with a CDS index than it would be to buy many single name CDS to achieve a similar effect. Credit-default swap indexes are benchmarks for protecting investors owning bonds against default, and traders use them to speculate on changes in credit quality.
There are currently two main families of CDS indices: CDX and iTraxx. CDX indices contain North American and Emerging Market companies and are administered by CDS Index Company (CDSIndexCo) and marketed by Markit Group Limited, and iTraxx contain companies from the rest of the world and are managed by the International Index Company (IIC), also owned by Markit.
A new series of CDS indices is issued every six months by Markit and IIC. Running up to the announcement of each series a group of investment banks is polled to determine the credit entities that will form the constituents of the new issue. This process is intended to ensure that the index does not become "cluttered" with instruments that no longer exist, or which trade extremely illiquidly. On the day of issue a fixed coupon is decided for the whole index based on the credit spread of the entities in the index. Once this has been decided the index constituents and the fixed coupon are published, and the indices can be actively traded.
There are different families of iTraxx credit default swap index broken down by geographical region consisting of Europe, Asia and a Sterling denominated index.
Family Type Index Name Number of entities Description Europe Benchmark Indices iTraxx Europe 125 Most actively traded names in the six months prior to the index roll iTraxx Europe HiVol 30 Highest spread (riskiest) names from iTraxx Europe index iTraxx Europe Crossover 40 Sub-investment grade names Sector Indices iTraxx Non-Financials 100 Non-financial names iTraxx Financials Senior 25 Senior subordination financial names iTraxx Financials Sub 25 Junior subordination financial names iTraxx TMT 20 Telecommunications, media and technology iTraxx Industrials 20 Industrial names iTraxx Energy 20 Energy industry names iTraxx Consumers 30 Manufacturers of consumer products iTraxx Autos 10 Automobile industry names
Index Name Number of entities Description CDX.NA.IG 125 Investment grade CDSs CDX.NA.IG.HVOL 30 High Volatility investment grade CDSs CDX.NA.HY 100 High Yield CDSs CDX.NA.HY.BB 37 Index of high yield CDSs with a BB rating CDX.NA.HY.B 46 Index of high yield CDSs with a B rating CDX.NA.XO 35 CDSs that are at the crossover point between investment grade and junk CDX.EM 14 Emerging market CDSs CDX.EM Diversified 40 Emerging market CDSs
- Asset-backed securities index - similar to a CDS index, but with asset-backed securities as the underlying
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