Supply pressures took a nibble out of municipal bond prices this week as yields on The Bond Buyer's indexes posted modest increases.
The 20-bond index rose three basis points, to 6.25% from 6.22% a week ago. The 11-bond index was up two basis points, to 6.15% from 6.13% last Thursday.
The 30-year revenue bond index also rose two basis points, to 6.44% from 6.42%.
The daily Bond Buyer Municipal Bond Index's average yield to maturity rose six basis points, to 6.42% from 6.36%. Part of the larger increase resulted from The Bond Buyer's changes Tuesday in the 40 bonds that make up the index, which raised the average coupon to 6.30% from 6.28%.
Since Nov. 19, the indexes have traded in a tight range, with the 20-bond moving between 6.28% and 6.22%, the 11-bond between 6.19% and 6.13%, and the revenue index between 7.53% and 7.41%.
"We've been in a sideways grind this week, with supply pushing prices down a notch," a bond analyst said. "We had a good amount of refundings, including the $1.6 billion New Jersey deal."
Yesterday's 30-day visible supply was $4.86 billion, up slightly from last Friday's $4.82 billion. However, Standard & Poor Corp.'s The Blue List, which charts dealer inventories of unsold bonds, jumped to $1.86 billion yesterday, up $270 million from last Friday's $1.59 billion.
Through Dec. 16, long-term municipal bond volume is at $223.95 billion on 11,734 issues, both all-time records. Total bond volume is $263.43 billion on 14,513 issues.
U.S. government securities performed slightly better than tax-exempts, as the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond's yield rose one basis point, to 7.42% from 7.41 %.
"Treasuries bumped into significant resistance and don't seem to be able to get past 7.41%," a Treasury analyst said. "But a pause in the market was to be expected."
Treasury prices did make gains early in the week. On Tuesday, IBM Corp. reported that it planned to reduce its global manufacturing capacity, cut capital spending, and reduce its payrolls by 25,000 in 1993. The announcement was taken by the market as an indication that the economic recovery continues to struggle.
On Wednesday, government securities prices received a boost from purchases in the short end of the market ahead of next week's auctions of two- and five-year notes. Traders said the buying came from municipal governments that needed to defease refinancings, foreign central banks, and portfolio managers who had let cash build up.
"What's happening in the tax-exempt market is more of a consolidation," the bond analyst said. "The market is still geared to do better going into January, when anywhere from $15 billion to $21 billion is expected to flow into munis from the January redemptions and coupon payments."
In the short-term market, The Bond Buyer's one-year note index fell three basis points this week, to 2.61% from 2.64% a week ago.