Issuers in New York tapped the tax-exempt market Monday for over $1 billion amid an overall softer market.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch priced for retail $944.7 million of New York City general obligation bonds, rated A2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. A second retail order period is expected Tuesday followed by institutional pricing Wednesday.
Yields on the first series of $266.6 million ranged from 0.39% with 2% and 3% coupons in a split 2015 maturity to 2.28% with 3% and 4% coupons in a split 2023 maturity. Bonds maturing in 2013 and 2014 were offered via sealed bid. Bonds maturing in 2024 and 2025 were not offered for retail. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
Yields on the second series of $678.1 million ranged from 0.39% with a 5% coupon in 2015 to 3.00% with a 3% coupon in 2027. Bonds maturing in 2014 were offered via sealed bid. Bonds maturing in 2024 and 2025 were not offered for retail. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
Also in New York, Raymond James priced for retail $117.8 million of Dormitory Authority of the State of New York school districts revenue bond financing programs. Institutional pricing is expected Tuesday.
The first series of $35.4 million is rated A-plus by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. Yields ranged from 0.70% with a 2% coupon in 2015 to 3.29% with a 4% coupon in 2028. Bonds maturing in 2013 were offered via sealed bid. Bonds maturing between 2016 and 2028 were insured by Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
The second series of $7.6 million is rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and A-plus by Fitch. Yields ranged from 0.45% with a 2% coupon in 2014 to 3.81% with a 4% coupon in 2042. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
The third series of $28.6 million is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s and A-plus by Fitch. Yields ranged from 0.60% with a 2% coupon in 2015 to 3.54% with a 3.5% coupon in 2032. Bonds maturing in 2014 were offered via sealed bid. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
The fourth series of $6.3 million is rated Aa3 by Moody’s and A-plus by Fitch. Yields ranged from 0.50% with a 3% coupon in 2014 to 3.86% with a 4% coupon in 2042. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
The fifth series of $39.9 million is rated A-plus by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. Yields ranged from 0.80% with a 2% coupon in 2015 to 3.39% with a 4% coupon in 2028. Bonds maturing between 2016 and 2028 were insured by AGM. Credits maturing in 2014 were offered via sealed bid. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
The retail pricings Monday come amid an expected drop in overall issuance this week with $5.11 billion scheduled to be priced, down from last week’s revised $5.43 billion. In negotiated issues, $4.14 billion should be priced, down from last week’s revised $4.29 billion. On the competitive calendar, $968 million is expected to be auctioned, down from last week’s revised $1.14 billion.
Generally speaking, retail is staying away from the muni market due to uncertainties over tax exemption and possible rising interest rates making it harder for traders to move odd-lot pieces. “Odd lots are cheaper and the number of items you own start to increase,” a Texas trader said. “Odd lots tend to stack up and have to be priced accordingly.”
Because retail isn’t participating as much, many new issues are structured with premium coupons more attractive to institutional investors. “Over the past couple of weeks you don’t seen as many retail type 3s,” he said. “It’s 4s and 5s because the street is so flush with retail coupon structures.”
The secondary market was otherwise quiet and softer. “There are a couple of deals down this way but we overall it’s not that exciting,” the Texas trader said. “We are seeing even less flow than Friday.”
“It’s weaker 10 years and out just following Treasuries,” a New York trader said.
“It’s weaker but it’s dead slow,” a second New York trader said.
Trades compiled by data provider Markit showed a mix of strengthening and weakening. Yields on South Central, Conn., Regional Water Authority 5s of 2032 increased three basis points to 3.03% and New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority 5s of 2030 rose one basis points to 0.62%.
Yields on Ohio’s Buckeye Tobacco Settlement Financing Authority 6s of 2042 dropped two basis points to 6.51% and California 5s of 2020 fell one basis point to 1.66%.
Yields on North Carolina Municipal Power Agency 5s of 2023 and Rio Rancho, N.M., Water and Wastewater System 4s of 2021 fell one basis point each to 2.26% and 1.89%, respectively.
Yields on the Municipal Market Data scale were as much as three basis points weaker Monday. The 10-year yield increased one basis point to 1.83% and the 30-year yield jumped three basis points to 3.00%. The two-year held steady at 0.28% for the eighth session.
The Municipal Market Advisors 5% scale showed yields rising as much as two basis points. The 10-year and 30-year yields increased one basis point each to 1.89% and 3.11%. The two-year yield held steady at 0.33% for a seventh consecutive session.
Treasuries were choppy Monday but ended the day weaker. The benchmark 10-year yield increased two basis points to 1.97% and the 30-year yield rose one basis point to 3.18%. The two-year was flat at 0.25%.
Going forward, many market participants are constructive on munis with over $60 billion in reinvestment money expected to hit the market in May and June, according to Jim Colby, senior municipal strategist at Van Eck Global.
“The combination of tax-payment-day selling and increased new issuance supply, in some cases, has provided attractive price points for investors seeking tax-free income,” Colby said. “Further evidence of this can be seen in the recent average discounts emerging for municipal bond closed-end funds and ETFs at negative 1.12% and negative 0.05%, respectively.”
He added that ETF flows have not followed the same outflow patterns of mutual funds. “With ETFs trading at a slight discount with little or no outflows, any positive turn in demand could push ETFs to a premium, thus generating positive total returns.”