Municipal prices ended narrowly mixed yesterday as trading bogged down after two days of price drops and new issues met with a mixed reception.
Prices stabilized somewhat following declines earlier in the week, and the futures contract settled in positive territory. But market participants said the market still felt heavy, and it was difficult to get things done.
"The market is still reeling a bit from the correction started by the consumer price report," said James L. Kochan, head of fixed-income research at Robert W. Baird & Co. "We're in a buyers market right now, and new issues are meeting some resistance. But there is limited downside potential now, and the market could improve nicely on next week's economic indicators."
Underwriters reported slow going in the primary sector, and some issues were priced at cheaper levels.
But Bear, Stearns & Co. found several large institutional buyers to take down $325 million Connecticut variable-rate general obligation economic recovery notes, and yields were lowered.
The issue, originally priced to yield 4.60%, was repriced to yield 4.55%.
Bear, Stearns received the written award late in the session.
The issue is rated Aa/VMIG-1 by Moody's Investors Service, AA-minus/A1-plus by Standard & Poor's Corp. and A-plus/F-1-plus by Fitch Investors Service.
In other action, Goldman, Sachs & Co. as senior manager priced and repriced $300 million Massachusetts Water Resources Authority general revenue bonds.
Yields were lowered five basis points in the 1992-93 and 1998-2001 maturities.
A Goldman Sachs officer said that there was retail and institutional demand, especially in 2004 and 2005, but pointed to the sour market and added that there would be serial bonds and some discounts available for the Street.
The final pricing included serial maturities priced to yield from 4.70% in 1992 to 6.80% in 2005.
A 2011 term is priced as 6 7/8 to yield 7.05%, a 2019 term, containing $124 million of the loan, is priced as 6 1/2s to yield 7.05% and a 2021 term is priced at an original issue discount as 5 3/4 to yield 6.95%.
The bonds are rated A by Moody's, A-minus by Standard & Poor's and A by Fitch.
Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities priced $110 million Grand Rapids, Mich., water supply system refunding revenue bonds.
The offering included serial maturities priced to yield from 4.70% in 1993 to 6.55% in 2006.
A 2011 term is priced at 6 1/4s to yield 6.668%, a 2015 term is priced as 6 1/2 to yield 6.75%, and a 2018 term is priced as 5 3/4s to yield 6.685%.
The bonds are backed by the Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and triple-A rated by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch.
An issue of $99 million Howard County, Md., bonds were tentatively priced by Merrill Lynch & Co.
The offering included $58 million consolidated public improvement refunding bonds tentatively priced to yield from 4.30% in 1992 to 6.10% in 2003. Zero coupon bonds were tentatively priced to yield from 6.40% in 2004 to 6.65% in 2009.
There also is $40 million metropolitan district refunding bonds tentatively priced to yield from 4.30% in 1992 to 6.50% in 2019. Zero coupon bonds are tentatively priced to yield from 6.40% in 2004 to 6.65% in 2009.
The issue is rated Aa1 by Moody's, AA-plus by Standard & Poor's, and triple-A by Fitch.
In follow-through business, Goldman Sachs, as senior manager for $158 million Missouri general obligation refunding bonds, reported an unsold balance of $48 million late in the session.
Goldman, also senior manager for $100 million Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water works revenue bonds, reported an unsold balance of $12.5 million.
Meanwhile, secondary trading was lethargic, and traders reported moderate bid-wanted flow and very little trading.
In the debt futures market, the December municipal contract settled up 5/32 to 93.24 with the December MOB spread calcualted at negative 130.
In secondary dollar bond activity yesterday, North Carolina Eastern 6 1/2s of 2017 were quoted at 95 3/8-1/2 to yield 6.87% and Georgia MEAG 6.60s of 2018 were quoted at 98-3/8 to yield 6.73%. Denver Airport 7 3/4s, due 2021, were quoted at 93 1/2-94 to yield approximately 8.29%. New York City Water Authority 7s of 2015 were quoted at 98 1/4-3/4 to yield 7.10%, while Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority insured 6 5/8s were quoted at 98 3/8-1/2 to yield 6.75%.
In short-term note trading, yields backed off for the third session in a row with yields up five to 10 basis points.
In late secondary trading, Los Angeles Trans were quoted at 4.45% bid, 4.40% offered. Texas Trans were quoted at 4.48% bid, 4.45% offered and Pennsylvania Tans were quoted at 4.53% bid, 4.50% offered New York City Rans were quoted at 5.10% bid, 5.00%.
An issue of $80 million Detroit sewage disposal system revenue bonds were priced by Goldman Sachs.
The offering included serials priced to yield from 4.85% in 1993 to 6.70% in 2008.
A 2011 term is priced as 6 5/8s to yield 6.75% and a 2021 term is priced as 6 5/8s to yield 6.80%.
The bonds are FGIC insured and triple-A rated by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch.
On Tuesday, $265 million Illinois "Build Illinois" state tax revenue bonds were priced by Dean Witter Reynolds.
The offering included serials priced to yield from 4.40% in 1992 to 6.70% in 2008.
A 2013 term is priced to yield 6.85, and 2018 term is priced to yield 6.80%.
There also are zero coupon bonds priced to yield from 6.75% in 2007 to 9% in 2013.
The bonds are rated triple-A by Standard & Poor's.