The tax-exempt market ended stronger Wednesday for the seventh consecutive trading session as muni yields have fallen every session in May.
For the third session in a row, the 30-year muni yield has set a new record low as recorded by Municipal Market Data as muni prices climb higher following Treasuries.
“We are continuing to firm up today,” a Los Angeles trader said. “Rates are more and more unbelievable, but overall, it seems like there is good demand on new issues we are bringing today.”
In particular, he said a few California deals he looked at were very well-received.
Morning trading was active as Treasuries rallied on fears from Europe. A New York trader said that judging from Europe, the world looks like it’s about to fall apart. “Bonds are rallying and it’s all coming from Europe,” he said.
For the day, munis ended stronger, according to the MMD scale. Yields were steady inside four years but fell one and two basis points outside five years.
On Wednesday, the two-year yield closed flat at 0.31% for the 16th consecutive trading session. The 10-year yield dropped two basis points to 1.74% while the 30-year yield fell one basis point to 3.08%.
The 10-year hasn’t hit 1.74% since Feb. 2, when it yielded 1.69%. It remains six basis points above its record low of 1.68% set Jan. 31. The 30-year beat its previous record low of 3.09% set Tuesday, which beat the prior record of 3.13% set Monday. Before this week, the record low was 3.14%, last hit on Feb. 2.
Over the course of May, the 10-year yield has plummeted 13 basis points from when it started the month at 1.87%. The 30-year yield has plunged 17 basis points from when it yielded 3.25% on May 1.
Treasuries pared most of the gains made Wednesday morning but were still steady to stronger on the long end from Tuesday levels. The benchmark 10-year yield fell one basis point to 1.84% while the 30-year yield was steady at 3.04%. The two-year rose one basis point to 0.27%.
Yet despite munis climbing higher, municipal exchange-traded funds struggled Wednesday. The iShares S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Fund (ticker MUB) fell 0.26% on Wednesday, while the ProShares Ultra Seven to 10 Year Treasury ETF (ticker UST) gained 0.19%.
The muni ETF did beat the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (ticker HYG), which dropped negative 0.31% but fell short of the iShares IBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund ETF (ticker LQD), which dropped 0.15%.
In the primary market, Morgan Stanley priced $408.5 million of California Health Facilities Financing Authority Stanford Hospital and Clinics revenue bonds, rated double-A-minus by Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.
Bonds on the first series, $340 million, yielded 3.40% with a 5% coupon in 2032, 3.75% with a 5% coupon in 2042, and 4.01% with a 5% coupon in 2051. The bonds are callable at par in 2022. Yields were lowered four, nine and five basis points on each maturity, respectively, from preliminary pricing.
Yields on the second series, $68.5 million, ranged from 0.53% with 2% and 3% coupons in a split 2014 maturity to 2.57% with a 5% coupon in 2023. Credits maturing in 2013 were not formally re-offered. The bonds are callable at par in 2022. Yields were lowered up to five basis points in repricing.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch priced $155.1 million of Carolinas Healthcare System bonds for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, rated Aa3 by Moody’s and AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s.
Yields ranged from 0.39% with a 2% coupon in 2014 to 3.76% with a 5% coupon in 2043. The bonds are callable at par in 2022.
In the secondary market, trades reported by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board showed firming over the course of the last week.
Bonds from an interdealer trade of California 4.375s of 2042 yielded 4.24%, five basis points lower than where they traded Tuesday.
A dealer bought from a customer Illinois Development Finance Authority 0s of 2025 at 2.98%, two basis points lower than where they traded Friday.
Bonds from an interdealer trade of Illinois 4s of 2030 yielded 4.10%, one basis point lower than where they traded Monday.
Bonds from an interdealer trade of Hawaii 5s of 2021 yielded 1.72%, one basis point lower than where they traded a week ago.
Elsewhere in the secondary market, muni yields fell between two and seven basis points, according to a sample of CUSIP numbers compiled by data provider Markit.
Yields on Boston 4s of 2023 fell seven basis points to 2.07% while Minnesota Tobacco Securitization Authority 4.85s of 2026 dropped six basis points to 3.88%.
Yields on Wisconsin 5s of 2023 fell two basis points to 2.13% and New York Urban Development Corp. 5s of 2022 fell three basis points to 1.17%.
Over the course of the month, muni-to-Treasury ratios have been mixed, with most of the action coming on the short end.
The five-year muni yield to Treasury yield rose to 102.6% from 97.6% at the beginning of the month as munis underperformed Treasuries and became relatively cheaper.
Ratios on the long end fell as munis outperformed their taxable counterparts and became relatively more expensive. The 10-year ratio fell slightly to 95.7% from 95.9% on May 1 while the 30-year ratio also fell to 102% from 102.8%.