Municipals yesterday dipped in sympathy with Treasuries, which were hit with a list of irritants headed by a shriveling U.S. dollar.
Light activity and "plentiful [bid] lists" characterized yesterday's session in tax-exempts, which saw dollar bonds prices drop by 3/8 point overall, and yields on high-grade issues rise by three basis points, a municipal analyst said.
Most of the high-grade weakness was seen on the longer end, he said.
"We're doing better than Treasuries," the analyst said.
The 30-year "Treasury bond fell more than 1/2 point yesterday to yield 7.50%.
In addition to the government market's-troubles. dealer inventory continued to weigh on municipals yesterday.
"I think for municipals to do better, they really have to work through dealer inventories," a municipal trader said. Some deals done early last week were not well put away, he said.
Once municipals work through the backlog and Treasuries regain their footing, the lack of new municipal supply ahead should bode well for tax-exempts, the trader said.
Today's 30-day visible supply of municipal bonds totals $2.6 billion, down $382.3 million from yesterday. Today's total, which marks a low for 1994 so far,
comprises $996.1 million of competitive bonds, down $441.9 million from yesterday, and $1.6 billion of negotiated bonds, up $59.7 million. The competitive component is also a low for 1994.
The municipal trader cited three lists out for the bid yesterday, at least two of which came from funds. One of the three lists totaled $75 million, he said.
In debt futures, the September municipal contract closed down slightly more than 1 6/32 points to 89 1/4. Yesterday's September MOB spread was negative 417, compared to negative 410 on Monday.
In addition to the weaker U.S. dollar, stronger home sales, confident consumers and rising commodities prices also hurt Treasuries yesterday.
The U.S. dollar dipped to 99.90 Japanese yen, while the Commodities Research Bureau's index rose 2.63 points.
Single-family home sales jumped 4.2% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 738,000. The increase followed April's revised drop of 3.4%, which was half the initially reported decline of 6.8%.
Also yesterday, the Conference Board said its measure of consumer confidence climbed to 92 in June. The jump followed a revised confidence index of 88.9 in May.
In yesterday's new issue action, a Bear, Steams & Co: group won $160 million of New York State various purpose general obligation bonds, bidding a true interest cost of 5.8423%. The offering contained serial bonds priced to yield from 3.70% in 1995 to 6.10% in 2011. A 2014 term was priced to yield 6.25%, and a 2024 terms was priced to return 6.30%.
AMBAC insured the 2007 to 2011 maturities. Moody's Investors Service assigns an underlying rating of A, while Standard & Poor's Corp. and Fitch Investors Service assign Aminus ratings.
CS First Boston had the cover bid with a 5.85% TIC, and Merrill Lynch & Co. followed with a 5.89% TIC.
Daniel L. Keating, a Bear Stearns senior managing director, said a roughly $7 million unsold balance remained late in the day. The deal was distributed to a mix of investors including retail.
"We're seeing a lot of good retail interest," Keating said. "There have not been a lot of New York bonds in the market because of the budget not being passed," he said.
In addition to being the first issue by New York State since the budget's passage, the deal also benefited from the large amount of bonds maturing or being called on July 1.
In a press release issued yesterday, New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall said, "I am pleased that the three bids we received were very competitive. The proceeds of the bonds will be used to finance a variety of capital projects and to redeem $70 million of bond anticipation notes."
Joe Deane, a managing director and portfolio manager of The Smith Barney Shearson Managed Municipals Fund, was not among the buyers.
"No we didn't buy it," Deane said. "We're a little cautious in here." While Deane said he has cash to put to work, "we think the levels today still look a little full to us."
Deane said he thinks the market has more downside left, and said Shearson is willing to wait until it adjusts to lower levels. Just how much more downside is left is hard to tell at this point, he said.
"We're not looking for the market to get killed in here, but we still think there's a lot of bonds around, and the market feels very heavy," Deane said.
Jim Roberge, portfolio manager of Federated Investors' $25 million New York Municipal Income Fund, also passed on yesterday's deal. Roberge said he generally passes on New York State G.O. paper because it doesn't offer the yield he wants. Roberge's overall buying has been limited these days because market volatility has slowed cash flows into the fund. He said the last New York deal his fund bought was the recent New York City Industrial Development Agency deal.
Also yesterday, a Merrill Lynch & Co. group won $125 million Burke County Development Authority, Ga., revenue bonds with a true interest cost of 6.679%. The bonds were not formally reoffered.
Supply was up slightly on Tuesday in both the primary and secondary sectors.
Standard & Poor's Corp's Blue List rose $12 million yesterday to $2.249 billion from $2.237 billion on Monday. The measure of dealer inventory has exceeded $2 billion for seven consecutive days. In the past two weeks -- from June 14 - June 28, -- the Blue List has swelled by $567 million.
So far in June, the Blue List has averaged $1.838 billion compared with $1.694 billion in May and $1.752 billion year-to-date. In the first half of 1993, the daily average for the measure of dealer inventory was $1.454 billion. For the full year, it was $1.581 billion.