Despite yesterday's yawner of a new-issue session, May could see $20 billion of new paper.

"We could have a pretty ho-hum week and still come close to $20 billion for May," Michael Bassett, a vice president at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, said.

Though January's new-issue record remains safe, May could replace April 1986 as the second largest month for corporate issuance, Mr. Bassett said.

According to an IDD Information Services Inc. spokeswoman, new issues totaled $36.6 billion in January. This month's debt through last Friday totals $19.1 billion, just shy of $20.9 billion of new paper issued in April 1986, she said. IDD's figures are for nonconvertible debt, including agency deals. They exclude mortgage- and asset-backed offerings, the spokeswoman said.

As of late yesterday, the only issue priced was San Diego Gas & Electric's $80 million offering, which was won by Salomon Brothers Inc. through competitive bidding. San Diego's 7.625% first mortgage bonds were priced at 98.40 to yield 7.859%, or 40 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's Investors Service rates the offering Aa3, while Standard & Poor's Corp. rates it A-plus.

Another competitive bid deal, Monongahela Power Co. $65 million first mortgage bond offering, is scheduled for Thursday. Also expected this week is Hook-SupeRx Inc.'s $125 million of senior notes due 2002 through Goldman, Sachs & Co. Price talk on the notes, which are noncallable for five years, is 10 1/8% to 10 1/4%, a source familiar with the offering said.

In secondary trading yesterday, high-grades fell with Treasuries in light trading. Worries over rising oil prices and inflation helped drag the long bond down about one point. High-yield bonds ended flat to down 1/4 point in sympathy with lower stock and Treasury markets.

In other news, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Friday filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission to offer up to $600 million of medium-term notes, Jon Greer, program manager in the company's investor relations department, said yesterday.

Underwriters are Goldman Sachs; Morgan Stanley & Co.; J.P. Morgan & Co.; BT Securities Corp.; and Merrill, Lynch & Co., Mr. Greer said.

A Standard & Poor's report predicts the problem loan workout period for U.S. banks with heavy commercial real estate exposure will be "protracted and losses will have a long tail, reaching substantially higher levels than they have to date."

Analyst Tanya Azarchs's report in the agency's publication Credit Week says while nonperforming commercial real estate loans are leveling off and the quarterly flow into that category is lessening, "the overhang of heavy loan losses should retard rating increases for the banking industry."

Standard & Poor's has assigned a B-plus rating to Rexnord Corp.'s $150 million of senior notes due 2002. The company will use the proceeds, along with an eight million common share public offering, to retire outstanding public debt and preferred stock issues. The implied senior secured rating is BB. The ratings hinge on the company's completion of a proposed recapitalization.

Also upon the recapitalization's completion, ratings on Rexnord's B-minus subordinated debt and parent company Rex-PT Holdings Inc.'s CCC preferred stock will be withdrawn and removed from CreditWatch, which the agency placed on CreditWatch for a possible upgrade on March 26.

Rexnord will be merged into the parent company, which will change its corporate name to Rexnord Corp.

"Although the firm's balance sheet will remain highly leveraged, the recapitalization will strengthen Rexnord's financial profile as equity will nearly double to about $140 million and debt will decline $40 million to about $390 million," the agency said. "Debt maturities will be stretched out for a number of years, interest expense will be reduced, and exposure to payment-in-kind preferred stock will be eliminated."

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