July edged out June to become the second-biggest dollar volume month for corporate bond issuance so far this year, according to IDD Information Services.

IDD's figures through July 30 show 181 deals totaling close to $31.4 billion. June registered 197 offerings totaling $31 million.

January remains firmly in first place with 188 deals totaling close to $36.6 billion. So far, this year has seen 1,119 offerings totaling close to $185 billion, IDD said.

May placed fourth with 185 issues totaling near $26.5 billion followed by March with 133 issues totaling close to $21.2 billion; April with 110 issues totaling $19.6 billion; and February with 125 issues totaling near $18.8 billion.

This week's volume is anyone's guess, one syndicate official said.

"The market's driving all the volume," he said.

Names rumored to be coming to market this week include Philip Morris Cos., Exxon Corp., and Mobil Corp., syndicate desk sources said.

Officials at Mobil were unavailable for comment. Posie DiSesa, Philip Morris's manager of media relations, declined to confirm or deny an offering. An Exxon spokeswoman said the company has a "practice" of not commenting on prospective offering.

In secondary trading, high-grade corporate bond prices lost about 1/4 point at the long end, while high-yield bonds finished largely unchanged, traders said. Both markets were extremely quiet, they said.

Kroger issued $250 million of 9.875% senior subordinated notes due 2002 at par. Noncallable for seven years, the notes were rated B1 by Moody's Investors Service and B by Standard & Poor's Corp. Goldman, Sachs & Co. lead managed the offerings.

Republic New York Corp. issued $100 million of floating rate subordinated notes due 2002 at par. The notes float quarterly at six basis points under the London Interbank Offered Rate. The notes have a 5% floor and a 10% cap. Lehman Brothers sole managed the offering. Moody's rates the notes A1, while Standard & Poor's rates them AA-minus.

Mattel issued $100 million of 6.875% notes due 1997. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.294 to yield 7.045%, or 125 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Baa3, while Standard & Poor's rates it BB-plus. Morgan Stanley & Co. lead managed the offering.

Moody's has given a B3 rating to Seven-Up/RC Bottling Co. of Southern California Inc.'s proposed senior secured note offering due 1999.

Moody's said the rating action "is based on the company's high-lever-age and narrow interest coverage, and the uncertain strength of the collateral backing the notes. The rating also takes into consideration the highly leveraged condition of the Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up Companies, the company's franchisor and key supplier of concentrates, which currently plans an extensive recapitalization."

Moody's has assigned a B2 rating to Wolverine Tube Inc.'s proposed $100 million senior subordinated note issue due 2002.

"Moody's said the rating recognizes Wolverine's strong industry position, good returns, and the large sales component of non-commodity tube products, but that it is also based on the company's high leverage, modest equity, and the cyclicality of demand in its markets," the rating agency's release says.

Moody's has downgraded Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co.'s long-term debt ratings to A1 from Aa3.

"The rating agency expects C&P's debt protection measurements will be reduced following the decision of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia on the company's decision for rate relief," the Moody's release says.

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