Munis largely sidestepped a stronger-than-expected unemployment report and mixed Treasuries to perform modestly Friday morning.
"The market's not surprising anybody today," a trader in New York said. "Everyone was concerned about a big number in the report either way: 165,000 or 235,000. We landed in the middle, within earshot of the consensus. But embedded in the numbers is some sort of relative strength on the labor front and the economic news has been trending relatively better the past three or four weeks."
Economic news this week has been positive. The unemployment report followed suit.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the U.S. November employment picture was stronger than expected. November payrolls posted gains of 203,000 nonfarm jobs, as well as a positive 8,000 net jobs revision for October.
The unemployment rate fell, to 7.0%, or 0.25 point less than October's number before rounding. There appears to have been little residual effect of the federal government shutdown beyond a slight slowdown in federal hiring.
Traders reported light activity in the secondary market. Market participants are keeping their ears trained on next week's expected jump in issuance.
Early industry estimates show a calendar of at least $10 billion slated for next week, which represents the last expected big week of issuance in 2013 before the holidays. Issuers also seek to bring deals to market before the Federal Open Market Committee meeting scheduled on Dec. 17 and 18.
Three issuers weigh in with deals near $1.6 billion. California's Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency will bring two deals for more than $2 billion of refunding bonds, the Utility Debt Securitization Authority of New York has two for roughly $2.2 billion of and the New York State Thruway Authority is issuing $1.6 billion.
"You've got that supply standing in the way next week, and you've got a relatively stable Treasury market," the trader said, "so unfortunately, the expectations were possible for a very volatile day, and you didn't get that. Then, the market usually tends to settle in a trading range with not a whole lot going on."
Yields on the Municipal Market Data triple-A scale appear weaker by up to three basis points between six and 16 years on the curve. Bonds maturing past 21 years, though, are lower by a basis point.
The benchmark triple-A 10-year yield on Thursday inched up one basis point to 2.74%. The 30-year increased two basis points to 4.21%. The two-year held at 0.33% for a 15th straight session.
Yields on the Municipal Market Advisors benchmark triple-A scale ended higher through most of the curve, from four years out.
The 10-year ticked up one basis point to 2.77%. The 30-year yield also rose one basis point to 4.42%, while the two-year held at 0.37%.
Treasuries started Friday's session mixed. The benchmark 10-year yield has inched up one basis point to 2.89%, while the 30-year yield has slipped one basis point to 3.91%. The two-year is steady at 0.31%.