Municipal prices were mostly unchanged in quiet trading yesterday, while a $105 million Nassau County, N.Y., offering dominated a light new-issue calendar.
Overseas stock markets tumbled overnight, and the weakness spilled into the New York stock market open. As stock prices declined, Treasury prices improved. The 30-year Treasury bond eked out 1/4 point gains, but municipals remained unchanged.
By session's end, the long government bond gave back some gains and tax-free cash prices were quoted unchanged to down 1/8 point.
But in the debt futures market, the September municipal contract rose 6/32, to 97.31, while the MOB spread was calculated at negative 142.
Traders reported little secondary activity, except for a $40 million block of Florida Turnpike Authority FGIC-insured 6.35s of 2022, which were said to have traded around 6.19%. About $40 million of California Health Facility escrowed zero coupon bonds were also out for the bid, priced to yield around 6.57%, but reportedly did not trade, according to market sources.
Light supply in both the primary and secondary markets has contributed to the recent trading malaise and upcoming supply appears to be modest.
The Bond Buyer calculated 30-day visible supply at $3.32 billion yesterday, while The Blue List of dealer inventory rose to $1 billion.
Volume from July 1 through July 17 totaled only $7.84 billion of long-term debt, compared to $27 billion priced in June.
The last time monthly volume totals dipped to that level was January 1991 when $7.9 billion of new deals were priced. The last such precipitous drop from month to month was September 1986 when volume fell to $5.4 billion from $31 billion in August.
Leading new-issue action yesterday, the $105 million of Nassau County unlimited tax general improvement bonds were won by a syndicate led by Roosevelt & Cross Inc. with a net interest cost of 5.2917%.
The firm reported an unsold balance of $2.6 million late in the session.
Serial bonds were reoffered to investors at yields ranging from 3.50% in 1994 to 5.95% in 2011. A 1993 maturity was not formally reoffered to investors.
The issue is insured by the Municipal Bond Investors Assurance Corp. and triple-A rated by Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp.
In other competitive action, a Lehman Brothers group won $68 million Maricopa County, Ariz., unlimited tax general obligation refunding bonds with an NIC of 5.661%.
Serial bonds were priced to yield from 4% in 1995 to 5.60% in 2003. A 1994 maturity was not formally reoffered to investors.
The issue is insured by the Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and triple-A rated by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Investors Service.
Meanwhile, in secondary dollar bond trading prices were narrowly mixed.
In late action, Colorado Springs 6 1/8s of 2020 were quoted at 98 7/8-99 1/8 to yield approximately 6.21% on the bid-side, New York City Water Authority AMBAC 6.20s of 2021 were quoted at 100-1/4 to yield 6.20%, and Texas Municipal Power Authority MBIA 5 3/4s of 2012 were quoted at 95 3/8-1/2 to yield 6.15%. Salt River Ariz. 5 3/4s of 2019 were quoted at 94-3/8 to yield 6.21% and Southern California Public Power Authority 5 3/4s of 2021 were quoted at 94 3/8-5/8 to yield 5.79%.
In the short-term note market, yields on actively traded securities were mixed on the day.
In the late trading, Los Angeles Trans were quoted at 2.97% bid, 2.95% offered, while New York City Tans were quoted at 2.92% bid, 2.87% offered, and San Bernardino Trans were quoted 3.12% bid, 3.08% offered. New York State Trans were thin and quoted at 2.90% offered late in the session.
New York GOs Affirmed
Standard & Poor's yesterday assigned an A-minus rating to New York State's $376 million of general obligation refunding bonds, set for negotiated sale today.
The rating agency also affirmed the state's A-minus rating on $5 billion of outstanding GO bonds.
A group led by Merrill Lynch & Co. is expected to price the bonds with a maximum yield around 6.20% in 2015, market sources said yesterday. Market sources noted that bonds due in 1998 through 2002 may be reoffered to investors at a premium.
Bonds due in 1993 through 1997 may priced at par to yield from 3.10 to 4.90%, the market sources added.
Amesbury, Mass., Lowered
Citing a "severe financial strain," Moody's Investors Service lowered $2.6 million of Amesbury, Mass., GO debt to BA from Baal yesterday.
Moody's said that several years of growing general fund subsidies made by the town to the municipal hospital have substantially added to other financial pressures caused by local aid reductions, Proposition 2 1/2 limits, and the recession. Moody's added that, although steps are under way to reduce the town's financial exposure to hospital operations, the magnitude of the town's financial deterioration and revenue raising constraints of Prop. 2 1/2 will impede efforts to restore the general fund to positive levels. Moody's estimated that it will require a minimum of seven years to eliminate the need for annual deficit-funding note issuance.