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Credit Insights

Activity Slows as Holidays Approach

Dave Sekera, CFA

Three weeks ago, we noted that some investors were locking in profits early for the year and other investors had already begun their year-end window-dressing. Two weeks ago, there was a brief bout of new issue activity as issuers looked to lock in long-term financing before the holiday season. Last week, a few stragglers tapped the markets, but the pace of activity in the new issue market has slowed considerably and trading volume dwindled in the secondary markets. Volatility has also been muted, and corporate credit spreads traded in a narrow range. While there may be a few new issues priced early this week before the Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a few portfolio managers may have some last-minute adjustments to make, trading activity and new issue volume should be light for the remainder of year. The average spread of the Morningstar Corporate Bond Index (our proxy for the investment-grade bond market) tightened 1 basis point to +100, while the BofA Merrill Lynch High Yield Master Index ended the week unchanged at +363.