"Nothing happened on the upside" was a corporate bond trader's description of the markets last week. "Buyer resistance" and "skepticism on the part of buyers and dealers" were other sentiments used to depict the lack of interest in the new issues.
Behind the hesitation was growing concern over Iran, inflation, the upward revision of fourthquarter gross national product data indicating greater economic strength than was first realized and, of course, the Sino-Vietnamese situation. And some poorly priced new issues hurt the markets even more.
Rates rose in all maturity areas last week, and many people think ple-A Texas Electric Service Co. that returned 9.57 percent to investors. The disaster of the week was the Georgia Power issue that came on a 10 1/2 percent basis. Unfortunately there were few takers and, when the issue was freed up for trading, it fell 2 1/4 points where the yield was 10.75 percent.
In the tax-exempt area, several new issues were repriced before they could be sold. The unsold balances from two weeks ago began to clean up at much lower prices last week. All in all, the demand just was not there, and the quality State of Illinois issue was only half sold at the end of the first day.
The Treasury sold a new 2-year on a 9.85 percent average return, higher than originally anticipated. they will continue to rise over the next two quarters.
A short liquid position is recommended. Most money market funds are paying more than 10 percent and one, the Rowe Price Prime Reserve Fund, is paying 10.6 percent.
Investors who feel attracted to the higher long-term public utility rates (triple-A's are offered around 9.57 percent, double-A's around 9.65, single-A's anywhere from 10.15 to 10.25 percent and BAA utilities from 10.50 to 10.75 percent) should try to obtain as much call protection as possible. Call protection is the length of time before an issuer can "call in" or "pay off" a new issue. That period is 5 years for new utility issues and 10 years for new industrials.
Long 25-year and 30-year governments have call features, but these are generally during the last 5 years of the life of a bond.
An example of this would be the 8 3/4 percent bonds due Nov. 15, 2008, andcallable any year from 2003 to 2008.
The corporate market had one successful deal last week, the tri-
Lebherz has 19 years experience in fixed-income investments.
The Farm Credit Bank sold a six-month note on a 10.40 percent basis and a nine-month note on a 10.45 basis.
Although the municipal market is unexciting this week, the calendar is growing. The only notable corporate issue is the sizable South Central Bell issue on Tuesday.
The Treasury will auction a 4-year, 1-month note in minimum denominations of $1,000 also on Tuesday. Subscriptions may be entered at the Treasury hereor any of the Federal Reserve banks or their branches. The notes should return between 9.35 and 9.45 percent.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Following is a calendar of the corporate bond and stock offerings planned for this week:
South Central Bell Telephone Co.: $250 million of debentures due 2019 and rated triple-A, via competitlve bids.
Portland General Electrlc Co.: Five million common shares, via Blyth Eastman.
City of Stockholm, Sweden: $60 million of debentures due 1994 and rated triple-A, via Morgan Stanley.
ONE DAY DURING WEEK
Transamerica Financial Corp.: $75 million of debentures due 1999 and rated single-A by Moody's and single-A-Plus by Standard & Poor's, via Salomon Brothers. (TABLE) (COLUMN)*2*Week of 2/23 Week of 2/16 6 Mos. U.S. Treasury Bill (coupon eq. yield)(COLUMN)10.14%(COLUMN)9.93% 1 Yr. U.S. Treasury Bill (coupon eq. yield)(COLUMN)10.37%(COLUMN)10.15% 2 Yr. U.S. Treasury Note(COLUMN)9.91%(COLUMN)9.66% 9 Yr. U.S. Treasury Note 8% 8/15/86(COLUMN)9.29%(COLUMN)9.10% 30 Yr. U.S. Treasury Bond 8 3/4% 11/15/08(COLUMN)9.09%(COLUMN)8.98% New AA Long Public Utility Bonds(COLUMN)9.65%(COLUMN)9.55% Bond Buyer 20 Bond Index(COLUMN)6.38%(COLUMN)6.33% 30 Day Muni. Supply+ Blue List Volume(COLUMN)$2.80 billion(COLUMN)2.44 billion 30 Day Corp. Bond Calendar(COLUMN)$1.24 billion(COLUMN).88 billion(END TABLE)