7.15am: The first act of the day is to check what the financial markets have done since we left the office the previous evening. The important ones to check are US and Asian bond markets as well as the equity markets, as well as currency movements. We will also scan the newswires for any new stories that have broken overnight. In Europe, the bellweather bond futures contracts begin trading at 7am, with cash bonds becoming active between 7.30am and 8.00am.
7.30am: Probably the most important part of the day is the meeting of traders, salespeople and economists to discuss overnight events and strategy for the day ahead. The economists will analyse overnight economic releases and comments from influential central bankers or politicians. They will also look at the day ahead, giving their expectation for any scheduled economic data releases. We then review activity in the market the previous day and discuss views and strategy on the market going forward. Usually traders will have a preference for which bonds they want to buy or sell. This is obviously important information for the salespeople to act on. Finally, we discuss upcoming government and corporate bond issuance - whether we feel any new bonds are cheap or dear and what the likely impact on the market will be.
7.45am: Now that we are up to speed, salespeople write an e-mail for clients detailing the news from the morning meeting and their view on the market in general. Clients consist mainly of banks and investment managers throughout Europe.
8am: Salespeople begin to touch base with clients passing on info from the morning briefing, making trade recommendations and being available if clients need to trade. Talking to clients gives you a feel for sentiment in the market and puts you in a better position to forecast future price movements.
9.30am: Various UK economic statistics are released at 9.30 in the morning, on a pre-defined schedule. Bond markets typically react to these releases, depending on whether they are in line with expectations or otherwise. Movements in the price of UK gilts will have a knock-on effect on euro-denominated bonds and vice versa. The economists interpret the numbers and provide an analysis, which the salespeople then pass on to clients.
10am: The rest of the morning is usually taken up with bond issuance. Mid morning is the time when auction bids are placed for government and corporate supply in Europe. Our role is to keep in touch with the marketmakers/lead managers for the bonds. We will place bids on both our own behalf and on behalf of our clients. Results of these auctions are usually announced 30-45 minutes after the time bids are placed.
12pm: Lunch is staggered between 12pm and 1.30pm, making sure that we have three or four people covering the desk at all times. US markets open at around 1pm Dublin time. European markets typically react to how US markets begin trading.
1.30pm: Various US economic statistics are released at 1.30pm Irish time, on a pre-determined schedule. On any day, these are typically the focal point for global bond markets. Activity and sentiment data from the world's largest economy give the best clue as to the future movement of US and global interest rates and bond prices. The Federal Reserve (the US central bank) uses these statistics as a basis for setting monetary policy. Again, the NCB economists will interpret the numbers released for those on the desk and the clients. In the afternoon, global markets are at their most active. Much of the European afternoon is spent watching developments in US bond and equity markets as there are few scheduled events in Europe. The afternoon is also a good time to organise client visits, often with one of the economists.
Continental Europe is one hour ahead of Irish time so things tend to quieten down from 4pm onwards. Domestic and UK-based investors often trade as late as 5.30pm, which is effectively the end of our day. Before leaving the office, each trader verifies the trades that they have done that day. In this way they ensure correct settlement and catch any errors at an early stage.