Tax-exempt bond prices finished little changed after a session of moderately active trading, as a plethora of new issues received a generally favorable reception from investors.
Prices were relatively stable early in the session with some dollar bond issues quoted as much as 1/4 point higher at midday. Traders attributed the market's firm tone to recent favorable economic indicator release and expectations that federal budget negotiations will conclude satisfactorily near the week's end.
In addition, while dealer inventories are growing lighter, little price movement has been anticipated ahead of Friday's July employment report.
The relative strength of the U.S. Treasury market also has had a calming affect on municipals, traders said. Today, the Treasury Department is set to announce the size of its quarterly refunding. After the sale next week, no long Treasury bonds will be sold for another six months. That circumstance has prompted healthy investor demand for long bonds.
The 30-year U.S. Treasury was quoted late yesterday up 15/32 to yield 6.51%.
The September municipal contract finished 10/32 higher at 101 22/32. The MOB spread widened by one basis point to minus negative 451 from minus 450 on Monday.
Among active secondary municipal issues, Salt River 5 1/4s of 2019 were quoted at 5.70% bid, 5.68% offered; New York LGAC 51/2s of 2018 were quoted at 5.79% bid, 5.77% offered in extremely thin trading.
Cook County, Ill. MBIA 5 3/8s of 2018 finished at 5.78 5/8% bid, 5.75% offered.
Dealers saw good going-away business on outstanding issues and good follow-through on outstanding due to favorable market reception to yesterday's primary market issues.
Despite a $46.3 million increase, Standard & Poor's Corp.'s The Blue List, a measure of dealers' inventory, stayed below the $2 billion mark yesterday, at $1.94 billion.
The 30-day visible supply, as measured by The Bond Buyer was up $42.9 million to $7.05 billion.
The competitive component of the 30-day visible supply, at $882.4 million, is at its lowest level since Dec. 21, 1992 when it was $796.3 million.
The Blue List averaged $1.92 billion in July and $1.80 billion in June, which are the highest monthly averages since at least 1992. So far in 1993, The Blue List is averaging $1.52 billion. It averaged $1.36 billion for all of 1992.
In primary market action yesterday, a Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co. Inc. group repriced and restructured the day's largest issue, $1.2 billion Philadelphia, Pa. water and wastewater revenue bonds.
After the repricing, the bonds yielded from 4.10% in 1995 to 5.76% in 2019. Term bonds maturing in and 5.78%.
Adjustable rate and inverse rate securities, which were part of the offering, mature in 2012. They were not reoffered to investors.
Portions of the Philadelphia water and wastewater revenue bonds are insured by either Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., Financial Securitity Assurance, Capital Guaranty Insurance Co. or MBIA Corp. and are rated Triple-A by Moody's Investors Service Inc., Standard & Poor's Corp. and Fitch Investors Service Inc.
Bonds maturing in 1995-1998, 2006-2009 and 2013 are not insured and are rated Baa by Moody's and BBB by both Standard & Poor's and Fitch.
Ten winning bids were placed for New York City's $1.1 billion revenue anticipation notes. A group led by Goldman Sachs & Co. purchased the bulk of the issue, or $900 million. The Goldman group bought $225 million of the $400 million Series A RANs due April 15, 1994, and $675 million of the $700 million A_Series B RANs due June 30, 1994.
New York City notes maturing in April were reoffered in the secondary market at 2.75% bid. June notes were reoffered at a 2.90% bid, traders said.
Net interest costs on the notes ranged from 2.80% to 3.02%. The average net interest cost on the entire deal was 2.95%. Dealers said demand was strong for the April maturity, but buying faltered on the June paper. Some money market funds, concerned with restrictions on the average weighted maturities of their portfolios may have found the shorter maturity more attractive. In addition, the April maturity coincides with individual income tax payments, which would make the securities more attractive to retail investors, another dealer speculated.
The New York City RANs are rated MIG-1 by Moody's Investors Service Inc. and SP-1 by Standard & Poor's Corp.
Despite the limited response to a portion of the offering, dealers are optimistic that the New York City notes will sell.
One buyer of the notes said the deal was attractive because yields in the note market had recently spiked and appear to be heading down, given the relative strength in the municipal market compared to other markets and investors' appetite for yield.
In addition, the float, or unsold balance of notes following several large deals has largely abated, adding to the New York City deal's marketability. These factors combine to make bidding on the deal "look like a pretty decent bet," the dealer added.
In other competitive action, an underwriting group led by Merrill Lynch & Co. reported an unsold balance of $12.83 million on an offering of $175 million Illinois general obligation bonds.
Serial bonds were priced to yield from 3.80% in 1996 to 5.65% in 2014 and 2015. A $21 million term bond due in 2018 was priced to yield 5.689%. Bonds maturing in 1994 and 1995 were not formally reoffered to investors.
The deal saw strong demand from a mix of retail and institutional buyers including property and casualty insurers and national bond funds, a Merrill official said.
The week's limited new issue calendar and a lack of high grade paper contributed to the success of the Illinois deal, the Merrill official said.
The bond are rated Aa by Moody's and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.
Other sizable offerings brought to market yesterday included $190 million Philadelphia school district tax and revenue anticipation notes, $187 million Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Calif. taxable electric revenue refunding bonds, and $130 million New York City Housing Development Corp. multi-family housing revenue bonds.
Both the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the New York City housing deals were repriced to lower some yields by about five basis points.