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Market price is an economic concept with commonplace familiarity; it is the price that a good or service is offered at, or will fetch, in the marketplace; it is of interest mainly in the study of microeconomics.
Other measures of value
Market price is one of a number of ways of establishing the monitery value of a transaction; there are others, such as historical cost; the resource cost of the good or service; the discounted present value, and others.
Many second order factors bear on market price in practise, not least the availability of market information to suppliers and potential purchasers.
In classical economics, the market price of a good or service is established in relation with demand, and in inverse relation with supply, which is to say the market price decreases as supply increases; increases as supply decreases; increases as demand increases; and decreases as demand decreases. The actual market price will establish a particular price point, valid for a short period which is the meshing of current demand and supply (see supply and demand).
Market price has a slightly more specialised meaning in relation to bond trading
The market price of a bond is normally expressed in terms of a $100 par value. A bond trading at $90 is said to be trading at a discount. A bond with a market price of $110 is said to be trading at a premium. The price of a bond represents the present value of its discounted coupon payments and the principal amount. In the case of a zero-coupon or strip bond, the market value is discounted value of the coupon or residue, which likewise is expressed in terms of a maturity value of $100. A strip bond with a long term to maturity may be trading a deep discount - for example less than $20.
If the maturity value of a strip bond is $10,000 and its current price is expressed as $20, the market value of the investment is $2,000. Similarly, if the price of a regular bond is $110 on a maturity value of $5,000, the market value of the bond is $5,500.
The price of a bond is affected by changes in interest rates and the credit worthiness of the issuer. The interest rate of a bond - also known as its nominal or coupon rate - is normally fixed. Consequently, changes to prevailing market rates can cause a bond to trade at a discount or premium. If market rates increase, the price of a bond declines. The price of a bond generally increases if market rates decline.
The discount rate on a bond normally takes into account prevailing market rates and the risk-characteristics of both the bond and its issuer. The issuer of a callable bond - which may be redeemed by the issuer prior to maturity - generally has to be offered at a higher yield to attract investors. Corporate bonds are normally considered of higher risk than government bonds because of the likelihood of default. Government bonds tend to have lower yields than corporate bonds.
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