The Federal Reserve's quest for lower interest rates has brought most rates to their lows for the year. Here is a shopping list of some attractive fixed-income securities for you late shoppers or for those of you who wish to invest your loot after Christmas.
As of Wednesday, according to the national index of the Bank Rate Monitor of North Palm Beach, Fla., the yield on the average money market account is 5.95 percent at commercial banks. A three-month certificate of deposit is 7.21 percent and a six-month certificate of deposit is 7.32 percent.
In the mutual fund arena, the following T. Rowe Price open-ended funds were offering these 30-day annualized taxable returns: government money market fund, 6.58 percent; prime reserve money market fund, 7.22 percent; GNMA fund, 8.72 percent; international bond fund, 8.67 percent; and, for those who can afford the risk, the high-yield fund, 15.45 percent. Returns available on T. Rowe Price's tax-exempt funds were 5.33 percent on the money market fund; 5.67 percent on the short-intermediate fund; and 7.23 percent on the long-term high-yield fund.
As a point of reference, 30-year, A-rated tax-exempt revenue issues are returning 7.35 percent, while 30-year, AAA-rated general obligation bonds are returning 6.90 percent. The seven-day compounded average yield on taxable money market funds as computed by the IBC/Donoghue organization was 7.42 percent as of Wednesday.
Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc., taking heart with the increase in the stock dividend of Bankers Trust in New York, suggests the Bankers Trust subordinated debentures, 10.20 percent due March 15, 1999. They are callable at par in 1994, rated A2/AA
and offered at 101.25, which is a yield-to-call of 9.72 percent.
For gifts to children, Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. recommends buying zero-coupon municipals, which are excellent for future educational purposes. Twenty-year insured zeroes are selling at about 7.10 percent, for a dollar price of 24.75, or $247.50 per $1,000 par value bond. Smith Barney suggests that the zeroes meet two conditions: that they be noncallable for life, or at least noncallable for all but a few years before maturity, and that they be rated AA or better. Insured municipal zeroes carry a AAA rating. No taxes are paid on the appreciation of a muni zero.
Another gift item for children that may be purchased through commercial banks are Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds. The EEs may be purchased and registered in a parent's name. If the proceeds are then used to pay for higher education, they will also be exempt from federal taxes (they're already exempt from state and local taxes). EEs can be a low-cost item and come in eight denominations, ranging from $50 to $10,000. They cost one-half the face amount of the bond -- that is, $25 to $5,000. If the EEs are held for more than five years, they will receive the current guaranteed rate of 7.19 percent. The bonds mature at par ($1,000) in 12 years.
The Treasury will auction a two-year note in $5,000 minimums on Wednesday, and a four-year note in $1,000 minimums on Thursday. They should return 7.30 percent and 7.60 percent respectively.