The municipal market eyed two large deals pricing for retail investors on Wednesday following a successful underwriting of the $1.78 billion of Jefferson County, Ala., sewer warrants the previous day.
With the focus on the new issues in the primary, the secondary market cheapened and traders said they were able to complete transactions. Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Open Market Committee released minutes from its October meeting that said “If economic conditions warranted, the committee could decide to slow the pace of purchases at one of its next few meetings.” Fixed income markets subsequently weakened.
One trader in New Jersey said he was able to get business done in the secondary market buy cheaper bonds and trade them higher. “It feels a little stronger and we are able to buy cheaper because people aren’t paying attention and are focused on the primary,” he said. “There is good order flow today.”
Higher yielding bonds on the short end of the curve were active, including insured Atlantic City credits. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the city’s general obligation debt to Baa2 from Baa1 on Wednesday morning.
On the long-end of the curve, territory credits were actively trading, including Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Guam.
One New York trader said the 12- to 15-year range was most actively traded. “There is a lot of stuff out there on bids wanted, but there are good levels for block sizes,” he said.
In the primary, Wells Fargo priced for retail $1.5 billion Port Authority of New York and New Jersey bonds, rated Aa3 by Moody’s and AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.
Yields on the first series of $475.2 million of bonds subject to the alternative minimum tax, ranged from 1.61% with a 5% coupon in 2018 to 5% priced at par in 2038. Bonds maturing between 2015 and 2043 were not offered for retail. The bonds are callable at par in 2023.
Yields on the second series of $913.2 million ranged from 0.42% with a 4% coupon in 2015 to 4.32% with a 4.25% coupon in 2033. Bonds maturing between 2027 and 2043 were not offered for retail. The bonds are callable at par in 2023. Spreads on bonds with 5% coupons ranged from seven basis points in 2016 to 28 basis points in 2026 above Tuesday’s double-A Municipal Market Data scale.
Yields on the third series of $111.6 million ranged from 0.32% with a 3% coupon in 2015 to 2.49% with a 4% coupon in 2021.
Wells Fargo priced for retail $380 million of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power system revenue bonds, rated Aa2 by Moody’s and AA by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch.
Yields ranged from 0.69% with a 5% coupon in 2017 to 4.20% with a 5% coupon in 2035. The bonds are callable at par in 2023. Bonds maturing between 2017 and 2024 were priced four to 20 basis points richer than Tuesday’s double-A MMD scale. Bonds maturing between 2025 and 2035 yielded two to nine basis points above the scale.
In the competitive market, Bank of America Merrill Lynch won the bid for $225 million of Maryland Department of Transportation consolidated bonds rated Aa1 by Moody’s, AAA by Standard & Poor’s, and AA-plus by Fitch.
Yields ranged from 0.50% with a 5% coupon in 2016 to 3.66% with a 3.75% coupon in 2028. The bonds are callable at par in 2021. Bonds with 5% coupons maturing between 2016 and 2021 were priced up to seven basis points cheaper than Tuesday’s triple-A MMD scale.
In the secondary market, trades compiled by data provider Markit showed a mix of strengthening and weakening.
Yields on New Lenox, Ill., 4s of 2031 fell three basis points to 4.21% and Rowlett, Texas, 5s of 2021 slid two basis points to 2.00%.
Yields on Honolulu 5.25s of 2030 fell two basis points to 3.54% and New Jersey 4s of 2031 slid one basis point to 4.01%.
Other trades were weaker. Yields on Ohio’s Buckeye Tobacco Settlement Financing Authority 5.875s of 2047 and Pennsylvania 5s of 2020 rose two basis points each to 7.81% and 2.02%, respectively.
Yields on Colorado Health Facilities Authority 5s of 2041 and New York 5s of 2026 rose two basis points each to 5.18% and 3.58%, respectively.
On Wednesday, the triple-A MMD scale ended as much as three basis points weaker, reversing a four-day positive streak. The 10-year yield rose one basis point to 2.62% and the 30-year yield climbed three basis points to 4.12%. The two-year closed unchanged for the fifth session at 0.33%.
Yields on the Municipal Market Advisors benchmark scale ended as much as four basis points higher after posting mostly gains for five sessions. The 10-year yield rose one basis point to 2.69% and the 30-year yield climbed three basis points to 4.33%. The two-year was steady for the third session at 0.38%.
Treasuries reversed morning gains and ended weaker on longer maturing bonds after the FOMC minutes were released. The benchmark 10-year yield rose nine basis points to 2.80% and the 30-year yield jumped 11 basis points to 3.91%. The two-year yield slid two basis points to 0.28%.
“The Fed minutes, while jarring to financial markets, do not materially change our near-term outlook for the Fed,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight. “We continue to believe that the Fed will wait until early next year to taper. But [quantitative easing 3]’s days, at least at the current pace, are numbered.”