The municipal bond market's climb to record heights slowed slightly in July, but new-issue volume still rose 48% in the first seven months of 1992, to $129.86 billion from $87.89 billion a year ago, according to figures compiled by Securities Data Co.

State and local governments sold $15.77 billion of bonds last month, up 20% from $13.14 billion in July 1991. July's total was 42% below the $27.4 billion sold in June and the lowest for a single month since January, when $15.09 billion was issued. It also was the first month this year that failed to set a record for the month.

Last month's total, however, was the second highest for July. It trailed 1986, when issuers rushed a record $24.89 billion of bonds to market to beat the Sept. 1 effective date for the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Low interest rates remain the driving force behind this year's substantial volume gains. The Bond Buyer's 20-bond index of general obligation bond yields, for example, fell 49 basis points in July, to 5.89% on July 30, its lowest level since April 1978.

Refundings continued to lead the surge in issuance, jumping 146%, to $55.61 billion from $22.65 billion a year ago. This year already boasts the third-highest annual refunding total on record, behind 1985's $70.77 billion and 1986's $65.15 billion.

New-money issues rose a more modest 14%, to $74.25 billion from $65.24 billion a year ago.

Bond financing has risen this year for every purpose category. General-purpose and multipurpose issues, the largest category, posted a 53% rise, to $34.76 billion from $22.74 billion.

Education, the largest specific purpose for tax-exempt bonding, jumped 43% through July, to $23.83 billion from $16.65 billion a year ago. Transportation bond sales more than doubled, to $14.5 billion from $6.75 billion a year ago. Bonds sold for utilities rose 43% to $14.44 billion from $10.07 billion.

Health-care volume rose 33%, to $11.99 billion; housing soared 53%, to $10.43 billion; electric power jumped 57%, to $7.92 billion; and industrial development increased 42%, to $4.05 billion.

Two sectors, environmental facilities and public facilities, reported tiny increases of only $2 million, or 0.05%, with environmental facilities inching up to $3.757 billion from $3.755 billion, and public facilities rising to $4.192 billion from $4.19 billion.

Negotiated offerings' surged 60%, to $99.67 billion from $62.51 billion, while competitively bid sales rose 21%, to $28.76 billion from $23.83 billion. Private placements were down 8%, to $1.42 billion from $1.54 billion.

Bonds subject to the alternative minimum tax posted a 30% gain, to $8.96 billion from $6.91 billion, because of increases in single-family mortgage bonds and airport revenue bonds. Taxable deals were up 30% to $2.47 billion from $1.9 billion.

General obligation issues surged 63%, to $49.47 billion from $30.41 billion last year, and increased their share of the market to 38% from 35%. Revenue bond sales were up 40%, to $80.39 billion form $57.47 billion.

The use of bond insurance to enhance municipals soared 60%, to $44.7 billion from $27.97 billion. This year's total already is the second highest annual figure for insured bonds, exceeded only by last year's $51.53 billion.

Bonds secured by insured mortgages or collateralized by mortgage securities rose 26% to $2.97 billion from $2.36 billion. Bonds backed by bank letters of credit dropped 17%, to $4.08 billion, despite a 46% jump in variable-rate financing, to $8.66 billion.

State government issues soared 69%, to $14.74 billion, and state agency sales jumped 66%, to $35.74 billion. Bonds sold by municipalities rose 45%, to $57.05 billion, and local authority sales posted a 27% increase, to $20.02 billion. Bonds sold by public universities and colleges declined 6%, to $2.13 billion.

California issuers continued to be the most active, bringing $15.04 billion to the markets, up 14% from $13.14 billion the year before. New York was second, with a 7% increase to $10.46 billion, followed by Texas, up 51% to $10.32 billion; then Florida, up 95% to $9.05 billion; and finally Pennsylvania, up 28% to $7.07 billion.

Securities Data's figures are preliminary and subject to substantial revision. June's bond volume, for example, was revised to $27.4 billion, up $840 million from the $26.56 billion compiled just two weeks ago.

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