Tax-exempted bond prices dropped for the fifth straight trading session yesterday on another indicator signaling that the recession may have come to an end.
Dollar bond prices fell 3/8 point on average, with some issues off as much as 1/2, while yields on high-grade serials moved up two to five basis points depending on maturity. Note traders reported that their market was firm, but pointed out that there is little paper available.
Traders said late yesterday that they were waiting for this morning's May employment data for the next clue as to the strength of the economy. They were nervous ahead of the figure, speculating that the 6,000 drop in unemployment insurance claims for the week ended May 25 was a signal that nonfarm payroll may not have declined as much as the 82,000 decline that is expected.
New-issue activity slowed to a crawl yesterday from the $1 billion calendars of Tuesday and Wednesday, and underwriters were breathing a sigh of relief because some of this week's competitive deals did not do that well and dealer inventory was beginning to grow. One trader commented, "All of a sudden we seem to have a slight case of indigestion."
A negotiated offering of $32.7 million New York State Dormitory Authority insured revenue bonds for St. John University topped the slate. The bonds, rated triple-A by Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp. because of AMBAC Indemnity Corp. insurance, were marketed through an account led by Roosevelt & Cross.
The offering was comprised of term bonds, due 2011, priced at 99 1/4 as 6 7/8 to yield 6/94% and serials scaled out to 6.80% in 2004. The verbal award was received yesterday afternoon.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to refund and escrow to maturity all $11.2 million outstanding St. John's dormitory bonds, series 1984, and to provide new money for an eight-story addition to the University's law school.
In the competitive market, an account headed by Lehman Brothers won $27.4 million Edison Township, N.J., various purpose unlimited tax bonds and reported a $7 million unsold balance.
The bonds, rated double-A by Standard & Poor's and Moody's, were reoffered to investors at yields ranging from 5.10% in 1993 to 6.75% in 2010 and 2011. The bonds maturing in 1992 were not formally reoffered.
In the short-term sector, First Boston Corp., bidding alone, won $57 million Virginia Housing Development Authority Commonwealth mortgage bonds and priced them at par to yield 4% to the initial STEM tender date of Feb. 13, 1992. The bonds, rated Aa by Moody's, were reported all sold.
In doolar bonds trading, syndicate price restrictions were lifted in the morning for this week's $200 million Hawaii airports system revenue bonds. The 7s of 2020 were quoted late yesterday in the free market at 96 1/2-3/4 to yield 7.27%. The formal reoffering at the award was 97 1/4 to yield 7.227%.
Last week's Los Angeles County Transportation Commission insured 6 3/4 of 2018 were quoted late in the day at 96 3/4-97 1/8 to yield 6.99%, while the uninsured 6 3/4s of 2020 were at 95 5/8-96 to yield 7.08%.
In more seasoned dollar bond trading, Florida State Board of Education 7 1/4s of 2023 closed at 102 1/4-3/4 to yield 6.93% to the 2004 par call. New Jerset Turnpike Authority 7.20s of 2018 were at 101-101 1/4 to yield 6.98% to their par call in 1999. And the market for New York LGAC 7s of 2016 was quoted late at 94 1/2-3/4 to yield 7/47% to maturity.
In the secondary note market, California revenue anticipation notes maturing on June 28 were quoted at 4.40% bid, 4.30% offered. There was some California cash money available, traders said. There was some good business done in this week's sizable California local issuer's notes, with a lot of business around a 4.35%, market participants said.
New York State December tax and revenue anticipation notes were steady at 4% bid, 3.95% offered.
Traders are looking ahead to next week's $1.3 billion Los Angeles County Trans offering and the upcoming $3.9 billion New York State Trans offering.