CHICAGO - Lagging the national trend, bond issuance in the Midwest last year managed just a 1% gain over 2006 as Ohio's record $5.5 billion tobacco bond sale helped offset a dip in refinancings and issuance in the health care and education sectors.

Issuers in the Midwest sold nearly $74 billion of bonds, a 1% increase over the $73.3 billion of debt issued a year earlier with the most significant levels of borrowing - $22 billion for a 4.4% increase - brought to market in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Financial. The first quarter showed the strongest hike over a year earlier with $16.8 billion of debt sold for a 34.5% increase. Second quarter sales of $17.6 billion represented a 21.5% drop over 2006 and issuance of $17.6 billion in the third quarter was up 1.5%.

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