Municipal cash prices ended unchanged yesterday, while futures lost ground, surrendering much of Tuesday's sharp gains.
In the government market, the 30-year bond ended down more than 3/4 point to yield 7.82% after the dollar dropped against the German mark and other currencies.
"The Street's attitude is they just want to buy against orders; nobody wants to take any risk in the last couple of days" of the year, a municipal trader said. Activity was quiet overall, though it picked up a bit later in the day, a second trader said.
In debt futures, the March municipal contract was down 22/32 to settle at 85 11/32. Yesterday's March MOB spread was negative 461, compared with negative 468 on Tuesday.
Despite the broader market's general quiet, inquiries were brisk at one New York retail shop yesterday.
"The Street may be quiet, but anybody doing retail individual swapping is probably pretty busy," a trader there said. Investors also appeared to be to preparing for the cash they will be receiving in January, she said.
"We're swapping and getting new cash," she said. "I would say fifty-fifty."
A trader at another firm judged 1994 the heaviest year for tax swaps in 10 years. While many investors had gains in real estate and stocks, "they had losses in munis, so it was a nice way to offset those gains," he said.
Anything those investors bought in the municipal market in roughly the past 18 months was down about 10% to 15% in value, the trader said. He said he has been doing tax swaps since mid-September, and for the past month, that's all he has been doing.
"So I am swapped out, but we got the job done," he said.
In yesterday's government market, the 30-year bond was off only marginally until the dollar's troubles hit, according to Michael P. Carey, U.S. economist at MFR Inc.
The dollar was changing hands at 1.5436 German marks in late New York trading, off a high of 1.5790 and a low of 1.5412, Carey said.
"We were down about two ticks for most of the day, and then when that happened, boom, we dropped and we're down 14 ticks," he said. The bond added losses as the day wore on for technical reasons, Carey said.
While some were blaming the recently devalued Mexican peso, the reason for the dollar's drop remained unclear, the economist said.
Turning to new issues, a $110 million competitive offering is listed for a week from today by the Texas A&M University System. Day-to-day issues aside, the only negotiated deal scheduled is the Chicago Public Building Commission's $13.5 million offering, set for the week of Jan. 9.
The 30-day visible supply of municipal bonds totaled $1.12 billion, up $94.6 million from Tuesday. That comprises $665.4 million of competitive bonds, up $108.2 million from Tuesday, and $450.5 million of negotiated bonds, down $13.6 million.
Standard & Poor's Corp.'s Blue List of municipal bonds was down $61.2 million, to $1.75 billion.