A possible $700 million offering by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and some competitive bids should help make for light to moderate new high-grade volume this week, syndicate sources said.
"I won't rule it out," said Tony Ledwell, a Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman, concerning the possible deal. Though an offering is possible for later in the week, Ledwell did not have a dollar amount or other details.
One syndicate source said the Pacific Gas and Electric negotiated deal is expected to have 10-year and 30-year tranches.
As for this week's new issue picture over all, "It feels kind of quiet," another syndicate source said yesterday, noting that the government market was off. The source said, however, that Mondays are typically slow, so it was hard to project how the rest of the week will progress. This week's figures are expected to show economic growth, which is unlikely to help the bond market, the source said.
The National Association of Purchasing Management's index climbed to 53.8% in October from 49.7% in September. A reading above 50% signals a general expansion in the manufacturing economy. Also yesterday, the Commerce Department reported that construction spending increased 0.8% in September.
Of the competitive deals on deck, two are expected today, syndicate sources said. GTE North Inc. is seen offering $251 million of six-year debentures, while Elizabethtown Water is expected to offer $50 million of debentures due 2028. Elizabethtown's offering would be noncallable for five years, the source said.
Tomorrow, Southern California Gas is expected to offer $175 million of first mortgage bonds due 2025 through competitive bidding. The bonds would be noncallable for 10 years. Also through competitive bidding tomorrow, Norfolk Southern Railway Co. is expected to sell $38.55 million of serial equipment trust certificates with maturities ranging from 1994 to 2008, sources said.
Looking ahead, John Lonski, senior economist at Moody's Investors Service, said Friday's October employment report will help determine new-issue volume pace.
While a stronger than expected report could have the effect of advancing some issuance, Lonski said, "a flat employment report would question the longevity of the second half s apparent pickup in economic activity and offer corporate bond issuers the luxury of waiting for lower borrowing costs."
A weaker than expected report could mean the 30-year Treasury bond may revisit its mid-October lows.
In secondary trading, high-yield bonds ended unchanged. Spreads on high-grade issues were also unchanged in very light trading.
Standard & Poor's Corp. has upgraded its unsecured senior debt and equipment trust certificate ratings on GPA Group Ltd. and related units.
The rating agency also removed GPA's ratings from CreditWatch, where it placed them exactly a year ago today.
Standard & Poor's raised the unsecured senior debt ratings to CCC from CCC-minus on GPA Delaware Inc., GPA Holland B.V., GPA Investments B.V., and GPA Leasing USA 1 Inc.
The rating agency also lifted ratings on equipment trust certificates issued by GPA Leasing USA 1 Inc. and GPA Leasing USA Sub 1 Inc. to B-minus from CCC-plus.
About $2 billion of debt is affected. Standard & Poor's said the unsecured senior debt is rated below the equipment trust certificates because "substantially all of GPA's assets are pledged to banks and other secured lenders."
The rating outlook is "developing," the agency said, meaning ratings could be upgraded or downgraded over the intermediate term.
"The upgrade is based on GPA's improved liquidity and deferral of cash commitments arising from the completion of an extensive financial restructuring," Standard & Poor's said in a release.