Empty desks and some 11th-hour tax-swap bids ensured that the municipal bond market would close the year's last trading day with a whimper.

The end to a tumultuous 2013, particularly for troubled municipalities such as Detroit and those in Puerto Rico, passed with no surprises. Those few market participants who remained at their stations Tuesday said that tax-loss swaps and even Puerto Rico paper, both of which had been trading rather actively throughout the holiday break, generated fewer bids on the day.

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