A quiet municipal bond market saw Maryland sell $525 million of general obligation bonds on Wednesday.

A New Jersey trader said the municipal market has been lifeless, aside from a few recent large new deals, and it’s not getting any better thanks to low yields, low supply, and low participation from retail.

“It’s very dead,” he said. “It’s the same old story with munis. There is virtually no calendar, and outside of new issues, the secondary market is very quiet and not a lot of retail participation from what we are seeing.” He said it is a very frustrating time for investors and market participants, like himself, who have been in the municipal business a long time.

“It’s a not very exciting time,” he said. “It’s a frustrating time for it to be this disturbingly quiet on a daily basis,” with very little trading on bid wanted lists, he said. “We are seeing the same offerings out there every day.”

Investors are awaiting higher interest rates, and while they have ticked higher in recent weeks, he said the backup isn’t enough to pique retail investors' attention.

“With so few issues coming, the market really hasn’t needed retail,” he said. “There’s been enough to satisfy the appetite of institutions.”

He said there is still a lot of “sitting on hands” pining away for higher rates. “If something doesn’t give there will be fewer of us in this business by year end,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a New York trader said the market was quiet as many investors and muni market participants took a snow day in the New York tri-state area.

“There are a fair amount of bid lists out, and a couple of smaller deals selling today, but it really is kind of quiet.” Aside from some orders on competitive deals, and a few customer sell lists, “it’s a pretty typical quiet muni day.

“A fair amount of people in New York and New England stayed home due to the Nor’Easter,” he said. The storm was expected to drop up to 12 inches of snow on the region into Thursday.

The trader said the California general obligation deal Tuesday benefited from timing and strong demand.

"Cal issuance in general has been down the last couple of months so there was a fair amount of demand for it,” he said. The sale was the “bellwether deal of the week.”

Primary market
In the competitive arena, Maryland sold $525 million of general obligation bonds in two sales.

Citigroup won the $475 million of state and local facilities loan of 2018 Series A tax-exempt general obligation bonds with a true interest cost of 2.8257%.

Wells Fargo Securities won the $50 million of state and local facilities loan of 2018 Series B taxable GOs with a TIC of 2.5759%.

The deals are rated triple-A by Moody’s Investors Service, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.

Since 2008, Maryland has sold about $14.9 billion of securities, with the most issuance occurring in 2017 when it sold $2.48 billion of bonds and the least amount in 2008 when it sold $815 million.

The Collin County Community College District, Texas, sold $234.71 million of limited tax GO bonds.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch won the bonds with a TIC of 3.269%.

The deal is rated triple-A by Moody’s and S&P.

In the negotiated sector, Citi priced Arlington, Texas’ $463.75 million of special tax revenue bonds.

Links to Wednesday’s bond sales
Maryland’s GOs:
https://assets.sourcemedia.com/78/83/bc40ddbc403fbfb4e7cd9277e8af/maryland475p-030718.doc

https://assets.sourcemedia.com/40/c9/a6724c9843d0b046239c3aac9157/maryland50p-030718.doc

Collin County GOs:
https://assets.sourcemedia.com/68/b6/e0d968f2438f96881fc71d85eefa/collinp030718.doc

Arlington bonds:
https://assets.sourcemedia.com/86/a0/b526590840deb6699cacc81d36ed/arlingtonp-030718.doc

Bond Buyer 30-day visible supply at $11.47B
The Bond Buyer's 30-day visible supply calendar increased $532.2 million to $11.47 billion on Tuesday. The total is comprised of $4.92 billion of competitive sales and $6.55 billion of negotiated deals.

NYC MWFA plans $475M bond sale Thursday
The New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority said on Wednesday that it plans to competitively sell about $475 million of second general resolution fixed rate tax-exempt bonds on Thursday.

Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to fund capital projects and refund certain outstanding bonds.

Previous session's activity
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board reported 45,377 trades on Tuesday on volume of $12.08 billion.

California, New York and Texas were the states with the most trades, with the Golden State taking 13.831% of the market, the Empire State taking 10.851% and the Lone Star State taking 9.193%.

Data appearing in this article from Municipal Bond Information Services, including the MBIS municipal bond index, is available on The Bond Buyer Data Workstation. Click here for a brief tour of the Workstation, or contact Vanessa Kim at 212-803-8474 for more information.

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