A new commercial mortgage total return swap index made a quiet entrance into the market late last week. The index, launched by financial information services firm Markit, is designed to provide investors an opportunity to gain exposure to commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) through total return swap (TRS) contracts. The Markit TRX.NA allows investors to benefit from price appreciation or depreciation on CMBS without having to buy the securities, the firm said. "The TRX.NA will allow investors to isolate the movement of CMBS prices, in contrast to the synthetic Markit CMBX contracts which are exposed primarily to the default risk of the reference obligations," Markit said in a statement. The swap contracts will bear standardized documentation. The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp. (DTCC) will offer trade documentation and settlement, while Markit will provide third-party oversight and consensus pricing for use in trade settlement. The TRX Total Return swap contracts, although so far under-reported in the trade press, have the potential to significantly impact CMBS trading over time, according to Malay Bansal, a managing director at asset management, advisory, and capital markets firm NewOak Capital. "TRX will likely make it easier for dealers to hedge CMBS positions, and will provide some interesting possibilities to those who want to take a leveraged position, and others who have been active in the CMBX market,” Bansal said in market commentary Tuesday. Write to Diana Golobay.