Pre-trade information on bond pricing is currently non-standardised and often misunderstood. The term ‘axe’ is used in fixed income trading to represent a sell-side advertising buy or sell bond interests. These are traditionally tied in some form to the sell-side’s book but can also be driven by client orders and even a trader’s market view or valuation.

There is keen interest in how these axes are distributed because they are a vital source of data for bond traders. Counterparties use axes to source liquidity, as well as to negotiate improvements in quotes received, potentially bringing the traded price inside the bid-ask spread.

Even though axes (pre-trade bond pricing information) are important for traders, the way in which they are distributed is not uniform and may even in some cases have been unintentionally misleading, causing consternation amongst buy-side market participants. The guide to best practice to definitions for bond pricing distribution aims to set out standards and definitions agreed on by a representative group of industry participants, which we hope will be adopted by the market as the basis of further innovation and automation.

Download the ICMA guide to definitions and best practice for bond pricing distribution - May 2021

The guide to best practice will be updated throughout 2021 and thereafter, reviewed semi-annually.


Andy Hill
Managing Director, Head of Market Practice; Secretary to the Secondary Market Practices Committee and also responsible for overseeing repo policy; Member of the ICMA Executive Committee
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