Corporate bonds marked time in extremely quiet trading yesterday as the Thanksgiving Day holiday neared.

"Short day [today] and the Thanksgiving holiday - it's just a quiet week," said Stewart Morel, a vice president and industrial analyst at UBS Securities Inc.

The Public Securities Association recommended 2 p.m. closes for today and Friday for the government and mortgage markets as well as money market instruments. The markets are closed on Thanksgiving Day.

One corporate trader said while high-grades ended unchanged, spreads have held up well.

"Spreads are definitely not falling out of bed yet," the trader said. He hasn't seen evidence of the typical yearend sell-off, he said.

A second trader said the market is just seeing "yearend inactivity." While there's no sell-off afoot, people aren't buying anything, either.

"It's pretty boring," said Jim Ho, a senior vice president at Boston-based John Hancock Mutual Funds. "It's pretty quiet."

Ho anticipates no major strategy changes before yearend. If the market rallies, however, he may lighten up on Treasuries. Ho may also add corporates as the economy improves.

Junk prices were mostly unchanged in thin trading, traders said. One high-yield trader said distressed paper ended slightly higher.

"We all feel asleep," a second trader said. Asked to characterize the market's tone, he replied, "I would characterize it as bored."

Activity was so light, he was able to "completely redo three spread-sheets," trader said.

PaineWebber Group Inc. has filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission for up to $1.5 billion of debt, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

The debt is slated to be offered as medium-term notes series C and medium-term subordinated notes series D, she said.

Together with earlier filings, the new registration gives PaineWebber Group close to $1.6 billion of available shelf debt.

PaineWebber will use proceeds for general corporate purposes. They include funding investments in or extending credits to subsidiaries, repayment of company or subsidiary debt, and possible acquisitions.

Underwriters are PaineWebber Inc. and CS First Boston.

New Issues

Treasury Corporation of Victoria issued $500 million [Australian] of 6.50% global notes due 1998. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.664 to yield 6.58%, or minus 12 basis points versus Australia's 12% debt in 1998. Moody's Investors Service rates the offering A1, while Standard & Poor's Corp. rates it AA. Merrill Lynch & Co. was lead manager on the offering.

Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. issued $325 million of 9.375% senior notes due 2003 at par. The notes are callable after seven years at 102.50, moving to 101.25 and then to par. Moody's rates the offering B1 by Moody's, while Standard & Poor's rates it BB-minus. Merrill Lynch & Co. served as lead manager.

Fruit of the Loom Inc. sold a two-part offering totaling $300 million. The first part consisted of $150 million of 6.5% notes due 2003. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.202 to yield 6.61%, or 77 basis points more than comparable Treasuries.

The second piece consisted of $150 million of 7.375% debentures due 2023. The noncallable debentures were priced at 98.628 to yield 7.49%, or 97 basis points more than comparable Treasuries. CS First Boston was lead manager. Moody's rates the offering Baa2, while Standard & Poor's rates it BBB-plus.

United Airlines Inc. issued $100 million issue 6.75% unsecured medium-term notes due 1997. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.669 to yield 6.85%, or 185 basis points more than the 6% Treasuries of Dec. 1, 1997. Moody's rates the offering Baa3, while Standard & Poor's rates it BB. Morgan Stanley & Co. was lead manager.

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. sold $100 million of 5.99% debentures due 2003 par. The noncallable debentures were priced to yield 11 basis points more than comparable Treasuries. Lehman Brothers was sole manager.

Rating News

Standard & Poor's has downgraded Foodmaker Inc.'s $175 million of 9 1/4% senior unsecured notes due 1999 to B-plus from BB-minus, a Standard & Poor's release says.

The rating agency also lowered Foodmaker's $125 million of 9 3/4% senior subordinated notes due 2002 to B-minus from B and $43 million of 14 1/4% subordinated notes due 1998 to B-minus from B. The implied senior secured rating is B-plus.

The rating agency removed the ratings from CreditWatch, where it placed them on March 26.

"The downgrade reflects the negative business impact of the January 1993 food poisoning incident at the company's Jack-in-the-Box unit," Standard & Poor's release says. "The incident, which led to two deaths, has resulted in depressed revenues and earnings."

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