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Yesterday, I bought my first certificate of deposit. (I did it more for fun and experience than for any other reason.) It's a 1-month CD that I bought on the primary market, with a coupon of 1.9%. I bought just one CD, so I paid $1,000 for it, and if I'm doing the math right, I'm going to get back $1,000 * (1 + 0.019/12) = $1,001.58 when it matures.

Anyway, after I bought the CD, I looked at it in my TD Ameritrade account and I saw that—woe is me!—this security which I paid $1,000 for is now worth a mere $999.99:

A screenshot from TD Ameritrade showing a certificate of deposit with a cost of $1,000, but a market value of $999.99.

Now, I'm not actually worried about this; I know I'll get back my investment and my buck fifty-eight when the CD matures.

But what does TD Ameritrade's listed "market value" for this CD actually mean? It's not the last trade price, is it? It's not the present value; the maturity date is 34 days from now, so by my calculation, the present value at a discount rate of 1.9% is $999.83. I doubt it's a bid price, since that would be an awfully tiny spread. So what is it?

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    It's probably a rounding error. But if interest rates go up or down in the next week you might see the value go down or up a few cents, reflecting what you'd have to sell the CD for to give the buyer the equivalent of the new interest rate. – The Photon Aug 31 at 18:05
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    With a longer term CD the effect would be proportionally higher. – The Photon Aug 31 at 18:06
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This is a traded security. It has a price like any other bond. At the last price, it was 999.99. Certificates are proportionate interests in bulk purchased certificates and not real bank cds in the retail sense. These are money market instruments and TD is letting you buy into it.

Someone purchased this instrument and then sold it into the market for some reason. You purchased a portion of that money market instrument. There is no bank record of your name. They have no idea you have a claim on it. Other parties are doing the record-keeping of who the real beneficial owners are.

  • So in short, the "market value" really is the last trade price, just like for a stock or ETF? I didn't think there'd be a secondary market for this CD yet, but this makes sense if there is. – Tanner Swett Sep 1 at 3:35

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