Underwriters lowered yields on $1.6 billion of Ne Jersey Turnpike Authority bonds yesterday, which were priced after a one-day delay, while secondary prices slipped 1/8 to 1/4 point compared to the Treasury market's 7/8 point loss.
The turnpike deal was postponed Wednesday as the market sagged under the weight of this week's $7.5 billion new issue calendars. But issuance ebbed today, with the 30-day visible supply dropping to $3.7 billion.
"We saw a window that we thought we should take advantage of," said Richard P. Poirier, a partner at Lazard Freres & Co., the authority's financial adviser. "The market was choking on all the supply, but there's not as much of it out there anymore."
A group led by Merrill Lynch & Co. tentatively priced the turnpice revenue bonds with a maximum yield of 6.75% but was able to lower yields five to 10 basis points throughout the loan. The maximum yield was 6.73% in 2016.
The final scale included serial bonds priced to yield from 4.90% in 1994 to 6.73% in 2011.
A 2013 term, containing $50 million of the loan, was not formally reoffered to investors, and a 2016 noncallable term, containing $634 million of the loan, was priced as 6 1/2s to yield 6.73%.
There was $372 million of the loan in a 2018 term that was not formally reoffered to investors.
The 2008 and 2009 are also non-callable, while the 2007 and 2010 maturities are insured by AMBAC Indemnity Corp. and carry triple-A's from Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp. The remaining bonds are rated A by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Investors Service.
In follow-through business, Goldman, Sachs & Co., senior manager for $281 million of Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, Calif., salex tax revenue refunding bonds, freed the issue from syndicate restrictions.
Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. freed $267 million of Harris County, Tex., various purpose bonds from syndicate restrictions.
Secondary prices firmed in the morning in news that initial state unemployment insurance claims rose 39,000 to a seasonably adjusted 493,000 in the week ended Nov. 9.
"The claims number gave the market a solid floor," one trader said. "Where guys felt whipped two days ago they're now willing to take a look."
But, later in the day, rumors that included talk of tax plans and selling Treasury strips took the edge off the market. Prices were quoted down 1/8 to 1/4 point by session's end.
In the debt futures market, the December municipal contract settled down 5/32 to 94.14.
Bid-wanted activity remains light, despite growing secondary supply. Standard & Poor's The Blue List of dealer inventory rose $31 million to $1.54 billion.
"It's a normal secondary," said one trader. "The claims number seems to have given us a pretty solid floor to work from and we held in much better than the Treasury market."
Traders did report some large block of bonds out for the bid, including $13.5 million of Sikeston, Mo., electric revenue 7 1/4s of 1999, rated B.
In dollar bond trading, North Carolina Eastern 6 1/2s of 2017 were quoted at 96 1/4-3/8 to yield 6.81% Washington Public Power Supply System 6 7/8s of 2017 were quoted at 98 1/2-99 and Massachusetts Water Resource Authority 6 1/2s of 2019 were quoted at 94-3/8 to yield 6.96%.
Yields on short-term notes were mostly unchanged in a lackluster session.
In late secondary trading, Los Angeles Trans were quoted at 4.08% bid, 4.00% offered. March New York State Trans were quoted at 5.20% bid, 5.05% offered, and New York City Rans were quoted at 5.08% bid, 5.00% offered. Texas notes were quoted at 4.08% bid, 4.00% offered in late cash trading.
Morgan Stanley & Co. priced $53 million of Regents of the University of Michigan medical service plan revenue bonds.
The offering included serials priced to yield from 5% in 1994 to 6.40% in 2004 and a 2021 term was priced to yield 6.87%.
Capital appreciation bonds were priced to yield from 6.80% in 2004 to 7.05% in 2011.
The bonds are rated A1 by Moody's and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.