The municipal market was unchanged to slightly firmer Friday. Traders said tax-exempt yields were flat to lower by one or two basis points.
“We’re seeing some firmness out there,” a trader in New York said. “I don’t know that we’re more than a basis point or two better, and I’m not sure that’s across the board, because I think you could also make a case that we’re unchanged for the most part, but I do think there’s definitely a firmer tone.”
The Treasury market was somewhat mixed Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note opened at 3.83% and finished at 3.82%. The yield on the two-year note opened at 1.02% and finished at 0.97%. The yield on the 30-year bond finished at 4.71% after opening at 4.68%.
Friday’s Municipal Market Data triple-A scale yielded 3.05% in 10 years and 3.76% in 20 years, matching Thursday’s levels. The scale yielded 4.13% in 30 years on Friday, also matching Thursday’s level.
As of Thursday’s close, the triple-A muni scale in 10 years was at 79.6% of comparable Treasuries and 30-year munis were 88.1% of comparable Treasuries, according to MMD, while 30-year tax-exempt triple-A general obligation bonds were at 91.2% of the comparable London Interbank Offered Rate.
In economic data released Friday, employers shed 85,000 jobs in December, more than economists expected, but revisions show employers added 4,000 workers in November, the first monthly non-farm payrolls increase in 22 months. The unemployment rate was unchanged in December at 10.0%.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected 8,000 nonfarm payroll job cuts and for the jobless rate to increase to 10.1%, according to the median estimate.
Wholesale inventories jumped 1.5% in November, the largest increase in more than five years and the second consecutive monthly increase.
Wholesale sales increased 3.3%, boosted by a 4.4% increase in nondurable sales. Sales have increased for eight months in a row. Wholesale automotive sales increased 1.3%.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected wholesale inventories to decrease 0.3% and for sales to increase 1.0%, according to the median estimate.
In the new-issue market Thursday, JPMorgan priced a $3.466 billion taxable general obligation sale for Illinois, marking the largest deal of the week.
In a press release issued late Thursday, the governor’s office of management and budget noted the “successful sale” of the debt “at a rate of 3.854% to be deposited into the Pension Contribution Fund. Funds from these bonds will reimburse or fund the state’s required deposit to its pension systems for fiscal year 2010.”
“This is a very successful deal for the state of Illinois and the 3.854% rate is proof the state’s economy is strong,” said Gov. Pat Quinn. “Investors have expressed confidence in our state and have allowed us to meet our pension contribution for this fiscal year.”
The release also noted that “demand exceeded $8 billion resulting in an oversubscription of $3.9 billion — a 2 to 1 coverage. The oversubscription allowed pricing to be improved 15 basis points over initial indications.”