Buyers in the tax-exempt market came out early for another trading session and pushed the market higher.

While the primary market has been relatively well received this week, trading activity in the secondary was the primary driver of the firmer market.

"It's stronger again, following Treasuries," a New York trader said, adding the market was firmer by several basis points. "The back end looks the strongest."

Still, the last of large deals were expected to price Thursday. JPMorgan is expected to price $500 million of Illinois State Toll Highway Authority senior revenue bonds, rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings.

Loop Capital Markets should price $417 million of San Diego Unified School District general obligation ad valorem property tax bonds, rated Aa3 by Moody's and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.

RBC Capital Markets is expected to price $367.7 million of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport join revenue improvement bonds, rates A1 by Moody's and A-plus by Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

Municipal bond scales ended a few basis points firmer Wednesday after a mixed session Tuesday. The muni market also posted gains Monday.

Yields on the Municipal Market Data triple-A GO scale ended as much as four basis points lower. The 10-year yield dropped two basis points to 1.70% and the 30-year yield fell three basis points to 2.90%. The two-year closed steady at 0.29% for the ninth session.

Yields on the Municipal Market Advisors 5% coupon triple-A benchmark scale ended as much as three basis points lower. The 10-year yield fell one basis point to 1.77% and the 30-year yield slid two basis points to 3.03%. The two-year was flat at 0.32% for the ninth session.

Treasuries were stronger as equity markets fell. The benchmark 10-year and 30-year yields slid two basis points each to 1.69% and 2.87%, respectively. The two-year was steady at 0.23%.

In economic news, initial jobless claims rose 4,000 to 352,000 for the week ending April 13. The figure came in above economists' expectations of 350,000.

"Although the four-week average of initial jobless claims remained somewhat elevated due to the reading from the last week of March, it is no higher than we saw in the February payroll survey week," wrote economists at RDQ Economics. "Our reading of the data suggests the underlying level of claims is around 350,000 but it will be two more weeks before the elevated reading from the week of March 30th drops out of the rolling four-week average. We see nothing in the jobless claims data to … suggest that job growth has deteriorated further since March."

In other economic news, the Philadelphia Fed Index dipped to 1.3 in April from 2.0 in March, falling short of economists' expectations of a 3.0 reading for the index.

"This report and the Empire State survey suggests that manufacturing activity barely expanded in March and April," RDQ economists wrote. "However, neither of these surveys have had a good track record in forecasting the ISM in recent years and the Beige Book for the upcoming FOMC meeting does not corroborate the view that manufacturing growth has weakened. We are not convinced that these two surveys are at all useful in tracking national economic conditions."

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