The Bond Buyer indexes rose for a second week in a row, reversing a steady decline in yields that began in June.
Several factors account for higher muni yields, including the winding down of hefty redemptions in June and July.
Investors also perceive a somewhat calmer picture in Europe, easing the flight-to-safety bid that reigned throughout much of the summer in Treasuries and seeped into municipals, pushing yields to record low levels from the belly of the curve on out, said Natalie Cohen, a managing director at Wells Fargo Securities.
In addition, August has seen lighter calendars and more empty trading desks.
Indexes rose across the curve this week, reflecting higher rates. The Bond Buyer’s 20-bond GO index of 20-year general obligation yields increased nine basis points this week to 3.75%, which is its highest level since July 19, when it was also 3.75%.
The 11-bond GO index of higher-grade 20-year GO yields also gained nine basis points this week to 3.54%. It is now at its highest level since July 19, when it was also 3.54%.
The yield on the U.S. Treasury’s 10-year note jumped 22 basis points this week to 1.70%, which is its highest level since May 24, when it was 1.78%.
The yield on the Treasury’s 30-year bond rose 21 basis points this week to 2.76%. That is its highest level since May 24, when it was 2.86%.
With a significant number of market participants on vacation, and reinvestment money not having an impact so far in August, new deals met investors anxious for paper, but at reduced prices. After two retail order periods, Bank of America Merrill Lynch priced for institutions the week’s largest deal: $1.1 billion of New York City Transitional Finance Authority future tax-secured bonds and subordinate bonds.
The deal was upsized by about $250 million. But yields were raised between three and 15 basis points over the three days of pricing to get it done.
Tax exempt yields since last Friday were mostly higher, but still managed to outperform those of Treasuries, Municipal Market Data numbers showed. The 10-year triple-A, which roughly two weeks ago sat at a record low of 1.60%, jumped six basis points on the week to 1.77%.
The 30-year yield, which also reached a record low on July 25 of 2.79%, leapt seven basis points from last Friday to 2.94%. The two-year held at 0.29% over the period.
Treasury yields since last Friday rose significantly more across the curve, pushing ratios for muni yields to Treasuries lower. The two year closed Thursday’s session at 104%, down 16 percentage points from last Friday. The 10-year shrank to 104%, and the 30-year to 107%.
“If you go week-by-week, the middle of July was softer, with higher yields,” Cohen said. “And then all of a sudden it tightened down for about three weeks. And now it’s beginning to loosen up as investors are more comfortable, a lot of the reinvestment money has been absorbed, and it’s tapering off. So, there’s the supply-demand factor that is softening things up this week.”
The revenue bond index, which measures 30-year revenue bond yields, rose four basis points this week to 4.50%. That is its highest level since July 19, when it was 4.51%.
The Bond Buyer’s one-year note index, which is based on one-year GO note yields, rose one basis point this week to 0.22%. It is still below its 0.23% level from two weeks ago.
The weekly average yield to maturity of the Bond Buyer municipal bond index, which is based on 40 long-term bond prices, rose one basis point this week to 4.25%.
It is the highest weekly average for the yield since the week ended July 19, when it was 4.31%.