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A common gauge of the price sensitivity of a fixed income asset or portfolio to a change in interest rates.


The amount by which a bond's price increases or decreases as the result of a 1% change in interest rates. When interest rates rise above a bond's own interest rate, its price usually declines because an investor can earn a higher yield with another bond. Likewise, when interest rates fall, the bond's price usually rises. Duration measures how much the price changes and, for that reason, is a measure of a bond's volatility.


The number of years required to receive the present value of future payments, both interest and principal, from a bond. Duration is determined by calculating the present value of the principal and each coupon and then multiplying each result by the period of time before payment is to occur. The concept of duration is used to relate the sensitivity of bond price changes to changes in interest rates. Also called mean term.


In simplified terms, a bond's duration measures the effect that each 1% change in interest rates will have on the bond's market value.

Unlike the maturity date, which tells you when the issuer has promised to repay your principal, duration, which takes the bond's interest payments into account, helps you to evaluate how volatile the bond's price will be over time.

Basically, the longer the duration -- expressed in years -- the more volatile the price. So a 1% change in interest rates will have less effect on the price of a bond with a duration of 2 than it will on the price of a bond with a duration of 5.

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