California GO sale greeted by moderate retail demand

Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Moderate demand markedCalifornia's retail-order period on Monday for its sale of $2.2billion of general obligation bonds, some yielding 4.92 percenton their 30-year maturity, or 70 basis points above Friday'syield on 30-year AAA-rated muni debt.

Yields on $707.7 million of various-purpose GO bonds thestate offered ranged from 1.48 percent on their November 2018maturity to 4.92 percent on their November 2043 maturity.

Yields on $659.5 million refunding bonds ranged from 1.48percent on their November 2018 maturity to 4.60 percent on theirNovember 2032 maturity.

Pricing for $246.0 million of GO bonds slated for schoolfacilities was not immediately available.

JP Morgan Securities LLC is the lead manager for the threedeals.

Additionally, a $450.0 million mandatory put deal led byCitigroup Global Markets Inc carried a 0.92 percent yield on itsDecember 2016 put date and a 1.33 percent yield on its put datein December 2017.

In all, the most populous U.S. state will offer $2 billionof tax-exempt debt. Also, California will price $186 million oftaxable GO bonds on Tuesday, when its sale is opened toinstitutions. Citigroup will lead the taxable deal.

Retail orders for the state's debt were moderate, whichopens the door to strong demand on Tuesday from institutions,said Billy Schmohl, vice president broker-manager Alamo Capitalin Walnut Creek, a co-manager of the sales.

"They've been pretty vocal about it," Schmohl said."Institutions will take everything we can give them."

California's GO bonds are rated A by Standard & Poor's andFitch Ratings and A1 by Moody's.

S&P and Fitch upgraded the state this year as its financesstrengthened. The state budget is forecast to swing to a surplusafter several years of deficits thanks to the economic recovery,spending cuts in recent years, spending restraint and newrevenue from voter-approved tax hikes last year.

California's deal this week is the state's biggest GO offersince April, when the state sold $2.72 billion of its GO debt ina deal upsized by $668 million in response to strong demand. Thestate also sold $2.47 billion of its GO debt in March.

California followed its April GO offer with the sale inAugust of $5.5 billion of revenue anticipation notes to raisemoney for its cash-flow needs, about half the size of thestate's note sale last year. Yields on the notes sold in Augustwere the lowest California had seen in more than 40 years.

In a report earlier this month, Lockyer's office saidCalifornia plans to sell $7.3 billion of its GO debt this fiscalyear and $5.2 billion of the bonds in next fiscal year.

The first day of California's latest GO sale came on theheels of a report last week by the state's finance departmentthat said the state's revenue for September came in $392 millionabove projection in the state's budget, putting it $136 millionabove forecast for the current fiscal year that began in July.

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