The municipal market was unchanged to slightly firmer, as market participants returned to work after the Veterans Day holiday.
“There’s some strength in spots,” a trader in Los Angeles said. “There’s not too much going on, and we’re not seeing too much movement, but I think depending on the credit, you can definitely pick up a basis point or two. It’s not really any particular part of the curve, it’s sort of here and there. But there are pockets of firmness.”
“It’s fairly quiet at this point,” said a trader in New York. “People are sort of settling in, and getting their bearings after the day off yesterday. Given that it’s Thursday, we probably won’t see too much of a pickup until next week.”
Meantime, new issues came to market yesterday against a backdrop of Thomson Reuters data showing that as of Wednesday, bond sales this year are ahead of the same period last year, with $352.55 billion of debt sold against $352.07 billion in 2008.
October 2009 finished with $45.8 billion in sales, which now makes it the biggest month this year and the biggest since June 2008, which had $50.79 billion. So far, November 2009 is at $17.72 billion sold through Wednesday, compared with $9.25 billion for November 2008.
Yesterday, Morgan Stanley priced $298 million of tax-exempt and taxable bonds for the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority.
Bonds from the $274.6 million tax-exempt series mature in 2024, 2030, and 2039, yielding 5.48% with a 6% coupon in 2024, 5.73% with a 6.25% coupon in 2030, and 6.00% with a 5.75% coupon in 2039. The bonds are callable at par in 2019.
Bonds from a $23.4 million taxable series mature from 2010 through 2012 and in 2020, yielding 3.19%, 3.83%, 4.38%, and 6.48%, respectively, all priced at par. The bonds were priced to yield 300 basis points over the comparable Treasury yield.
The credit is rated Baa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and BBB by Standard & Poor’s.
The Treasury market was mixed yesterday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note opened at 3.48% and finished at 3.44%. The yield on the two-year note opened at 0.82% and finished at the same level. The yield on the 30-year bond finished at 4.40% after opening at 4.41%.
Yesterday’s Municipal Market Data triple-A scale yielded 2.96% in 10 years and 3.82% in 20 years, after levels of 3.00% and 3.83%, respectively, on Tuesday. The scale yielded 4.26% in 30 years yesterday after Tuesday’s level of 4.26%.
As of Tuesday’s close, the triple-A muni scale in 10 years was at 86.2% of comparable Treasuries, according to MMD, while 30-year munis were 96.4% of comparable Treasuries. Also, as of Tuesday’s close, 30-year tax-exempt triple-A rated general obligation bonds were at 99.8% of the comparable London Interbank Offered Rate.
Elsewhere in the new-issue market yesterday, Morgan Stanley priced $129.2 million of environmental improvement revenue bonds for the Allegheny County, Pa., Industrial Development Authority.
The bonds mature in 2017, 2024, and 2030, yielding 6.50%, 6.75%, and 6.875%, all priced at par.
The bonds, which are callable at par in 2019, are rated Ba3 by Moody’s, BB by Standard & Poor’s, and BBB-minus by Fitch Ratings.
Wachovia Bank NA priced $111.6 million of trust and building fee revenue bonds for Washington State University in two series, including $96.8 million of taxable Build America Bonds.
The BABs mature from 2015 through 2021, with term bonds in 2029 and 2034. Yields range from 3.93% in 2015, or 2.55% after the 35% federal subsidy, to 6.41% in 2034, or 4.17% after the subsidy, all priced at par. The bonds were priced to yield between 125 and 200 basis points over the comparable Treasury yield. These bonds are callable at par in 2019.
Bonds from the tax-exempt $14.8 million series mature from 2010 through 2014, with yields ranging from 1.00% with a 4% coupon in 2011 to 2.19% with a 5% coupon in 2014. Bonds maturing in 2010 were not formally re-offered. The bonds are not callable.
The credit is rated Aa3 by Moody’s and AA by Standard & Poor’s.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch priced $100 million of education loan revenue bonds for the New York State Higher Education Finance Authority.
The bonds mature from 2012 through 2020, and from 2022 through 2026. Yields range from 2.38% with a 4% coupon in 2012 to 4.92% with a 4.75% coupon in 2026.
The bonds, which are callable at par in 2019, are rated A-plus by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch.
RBC Capital Markets priced $85.4 million of lease revenue refunding bonds for California’s Richmond Joint Powers Financing Authority.
The bonds mature from 2010 through 2021, with term bonds in 2029 and 2037. Yields range from 2.00% with a 3.5% coupon in 2010 to 6.00% with a 5.875% coupon in 2037.
The bonds, which are callable at par in 2019, are insured by Assured Guaranty Corp. The underlying credit is rated A by Standard & Poor’s.
In economic data released yesterday, initial jobless claims came in at 502,000 the week ended Nov. 7, after a revised 514,000 the previous week. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted 510,000 initial claims.