Term Spread

A term carry trade , also known as a yield curve trade, involves taking positions in fixed-income securities of varying maturities, such as bonds or interest rate futures.

The goal is to take advantage of changes in the yield curve, which is a graphical representation of interest rates on debt of various maturities.

What is term spread trading?

A Term Spread Trading is a long-short trading strategy guided by relative yield curve steepness.

They represent a class of Forex trading strategies in which exchange rate forecast signals are based on the entire yield curve.

A simple term spread strategy involves going long currencies with low term spreads (AUD and SEK being recent examples) and short currencies with high term spreads.

Learn about term spread

The term spread or yield spread is the difference in yield between two fixed income securities of different maturities.

The interest rate spread reflects the market’s expectations of future interest rates and economic conditions.

A steep yield curve indicates expectations of rising interest rates in the future, while a flat or inverted yield curve indicates lower interest rates in the future.

Key factors affecting term spread

Several factors influence term spreads and yield curve dynamics, including:

  • Monetary Policy: The central bank’s interest rate decisions and quantitative easing policies affect the shape of the yield curve and term spreads.
  • Economic Conditions: Market participants’ expectations of economic growth, inflation, and employment affect term spreads.
  • Market Sentiment: Risk appetite or aversion can cause the yield curve to shift as investors seek higher returns or safer investments.

Term Carry Trading Strategy


term spread strategy is a refined arbitrage trade based on the interest rate differential and the relative yield curve slope .

Differences in the slopes of yield curves across countries convey information about differences in term premia.

Standard carry trade investors ignore this additional forward-looking information and they only consider the short end of the yield curve when deciding which currency to buy or sell.

Traders can implement various term carry trade strategies to take advantage of expected changes in the yield curve:

  • Curve SteepeningTrading: If traders expect the yield curve to steepen, they can go long short-term bonds or interest rate futures and short long-term bonds or interest rate futures. This strategy is profitable when term spreads widen, as short-term yields fall relative to long-term yields.
  • Curve Flattening Trade: If traders expect the yield curve to flatten, they can short short-term bonds or interest rate futures while going long long-term bonds or interest rate futures. This strategy becomes profitable when term spreads narrow, as short-term yields rise relative to long-term yields.
  • Butterfly Trade: The butterfly trade involves taking a position in three different bond maturities or interest rate futures contracts. Traders can go long the short and long ends of the curve and short the middle, or vice versa. This strategy profits from changes in the curvature of the yield curve.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Term Carry Trading


  • Diversification: The term carry trade provides diversification benefits by offering exposure to fixed income securities of multiple maturities.
  • Market Insights: Term carry trading allows traders to leverage their understanding of monetary policy, economic conditions, and market sentiment.
  • Lower Volatility: Compared to trading individual bonds or interest rate futures, trading term spreads may result in lower volatility due to offsetting positions.


  • Complexity: Term carry trades can be complex and require a deep understanding of fixed income markets, monetary policy and yield curve dynamics.
  • Execution Risk: Due to changes in market conditions or liquidity, achieving the desired spread between securities may be challenging.
  • Interest Rate Risk: Traders must consider the risk of unexpected interest rate changes affecting their term spread positions.

If you want to learn more foreign exchange trading knowledge, please click: Trading Education.

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