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Junk Traders Shift From Old Habits as Electronic Market Expands

Feb. 11, 2021, 7:30 PM

Electronic trading is finally taking off in the junk-bond market, where instant messages, phone calls and close-knit relationships have long defined the way of doing business.

MarketAxess Holdings Inc. saw high-yield trading jump 52% last month from a year earlier to a record $1.9 billion in average daily volume, the company said last week. Rival Tradeweb Markets Inc. said junk-bond trading volumes on its electronic platform soared about 57% in January from the same period in 2020.

The market for high-yield bonds had been slower to adapt to electronic platforms than its investment-grade counterpart in recent years, in part because ...