NEXT

What's a bond?

Essentially, a bond is a fancy IOU. Companies and governments issue bonds to fund their day-to-day operations or to finance specific projects. When you buy a bond, you are loaning your money to the issuer - be it General Electric or Uncle Sam - for a certain period of time.

In return, you get interest on the loan, and you get the entire loan amount paid back either on a specific date (known as the bond's maturity date) or at a future date of the issuer's choice. The length of time to maturity is called the bond's term.

Bond investors have a language all their own. A bond's value when it's issued is known as its "par value," and its interest payment is known as its "coupon." For example, a $1,000 bond paying 7% a year has a $70 coupon. Expressed another way, its "coupon rate" is 7%.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.