The municipal market outperformed the Treasury market during this sluggish holiday week by largely recording less significant backups in yields.
With the lion’s share of the limited primary volume arriving Thursday, and listless activity in the secondary market, tax-exempt yields on the week rose modestly across the curve.
By comparison, Treasury bond yields have risen more significantly since last Friday.
Industry watchers say that demand for tax-exempts remains robust. They expect volume to pick up and provide more direction in the coming weeks.
Muni bond indexes were mixed, though mostly higher.
The Bond Buyer’s 20-bond index of 20-year general obligation yields increased one basis point this week to 3.73%, but still remained below its 3.76% level from two weeks ago.
The 11-bond index of higher-grade 20-year GO yields also gained one basis point this week to 3.52%. But it still remained below its 3.55% level from two weeks ago.
The yield on the U.S. Treasury’s 10-year note increased five basis points this week to 1.68% — its highest level since Aug. 16, when it was 1.84%.
The yield on the Treasury’s 30-year bond also gained five basis points this week to 2.80%, which is its highest level since Aug. 16, when it was 2.96%.
The market eagerly awaits a pick-up in the calendar to slake the current and pent-up demand, according to Alan Schankel, a managing director at Janney Capital Markets.
“Anecdotally, sitting on the trading desk, I know there’s a lot of inquiries from funds and separately managed accounts to put money to work in munis,” he said. “And the last run of [Investment Company Institute] flows were again positive. Last week’s inflows are this week’s demand.”
The meager new-issue offerings failed to provide direction for the market, Schankel added. There was little opportunity for price discovery.
“So, it was much more of a secondary-driven market, which was kind of dispersed,” he said. “More issues traded and a little harder to track.”
Muni yields beyond the front end of the curve have risen several basis points on the week since last Friday, but remain at historically low levels.
The muni 10-year triple-A yield rose four basis points over the period to 1.78%, according to Municipal Market Data numbers.
The 30-year yield climbed three basis points to 2.80%.
The two-year yield held at 0.29% for a 30th consecutive session.
Muni ratios to treasuries plunged on the week since last Friday, MMD numbers showed, though still remain attractive and cheap. The two-year ratio dropped more than 24 percentage points to 107%.
The 10-year fell five percentage points to almost 106%. The 30-year ratio dropped a few percentage points to 104%.
The revenue bond index, which measures 30-year revenue bond yields, fell two basis points this week to 4.43%. That is its lowest level since April 19, 2007, when it was also 4.43%.
The Bond Buyer’s one-year note index, which is based on one-year GO note yields, was unchanged this week at 0.23%. That remains its lowest level since Aug. 8, when it was 0.22%.
The weekly average yield to maturity of The Bond Buyer municipal bond index, which is based on 40 long-term bond prices, was unchanged this week at 4.22%. The weekly average remains at the all-time low established last week.
The Bond Buyer began calculating the average yield to maturity on Jan. 2, 1985.