Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II

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The Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index (H0A0) is a commonly used benchmark index for high-yield corporate bonds. It is administered by Merrill Lynch. The Master II is a measure of the broad high yield market, unlike the Merrill Lynch BB/B Index, which excludes lower-rated securities.


The High Yield Master II Index came into being in 1989. Martin Fridson, who then headed Merrill Lynch's high yield bond research department, brought a problem to the attention of Phil Galdi, who was responsible for bond indexes. The existing High Yield Master Index excluded two types of issues that were becoming popular because of the boom in leveraged buyout financing, zero-coupon bonds and payment-in-kind (PIK) bonds. Galdi's solution was to maintain the existing rules for the Master Index, but to create a new index that included "zeros" and PIKs. The new Master II was introduced with retroactive data that extended its history back to August 31, 1986.

The BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Index tracks the performance of US dollar denominated below investment grade corporate debt publicly issued in the US domestic market. Qualifying securities must have a below investment grade rating (based on an average of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch), at least 18 months to final maturity at the time of issuance, at least one year remaining term to final maturity as of the rebalancing date, a fixed coupon schedule and a minimum amount outstanding of $100 million. In addition, qualifying securities must have risk exposure to countries that are members of the FX-G10, Western Europe or territories of the US and Western Europe. The FX-G10 includes all Euro members, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. Original issue zero coupon bonds, 144a securities (both with and without registration rights), and pay-in-kind securities (including toggle notes) are included in the index. Callable perpetual securities are included provided they are at least one year from the first call date. Fixed-to-floating rate securities are included provided they are callable within the fixed rate period and are at least one year from the last call prior to the date the bond transitions from a fixed to a floating rate security. Contingent capital securities (“cocos”) are excluded, but capital securities where conversion can be mandated by a regulatory authority, but which have no specified trigger, are included. Other hybrid capital securities, such as those legacy issues that potentially convert into preference shares, those with both cumulative and non-cumulative coupon deferral provisions, and those with alternative coupon satisfaction mechanisms, are also included in the index. Securities issued or marketed primarily to retail investors, equity-linked securities, securities in legal default, hybrid securitized corporates, eurodollar bonds (USD securities not issued in the US domestic market), taxable and tax-exempt US municipal securities and DRD-eligible securities are excluded from the index.

Index constituents are capitalization-weighted based on their current amount outstanding times the market price plus accrued interest. Accrued interest is calculated assuming next-day settlement. Cash flows from bond payments that are received during the month are retained in the index until the end of the month and then are removed as part of the rebalancing. Cash does not earn any reinvestment income while it is held in the index. Information concerning constituent bond prices, timing and conventions is provided in the BofA Merrill Lynch Bond Index Guide, which can be accessed on Bloomberg (IND2[go], 4[go]). The index is rebalanced on the last calendar day of the month, based on information available up to and including the third business day before the last business day of the month. No changes are made to constituent holdings other than on month end rebalancing dates. Inception date: August 31, 1986

The above rules take into account all revisions up to and including September 30, 2014[1]

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