With the holiday slowdown rapidly approaching, numerous off-the-run issuers took advantage of the quiet time to bring ABS when there was little competing paper from benchmark issuers.

Throughout the entire week, the U.S. ABS primary market had an approximate total of $7 billion marketing last week, in assets that varied from auto to student loans, equipment loans to recreational marine vehicles as well as a NIM.

With no programmatic retail-auto lenders bringing transactions last week, mutual insurer and military credit union USAA tapped the market for $700 million of paper backed by loans made primarily to high-ranking military personnel. Deutsche Banc and Salomon Smith Barney led the deal jointly.

The second offering of the year for the issuer went extremely well, as did the first, with each class oversold within a day of its announcement and the single-As reportedly four times oversold. As a result, spreads for the fixed-rate classes came in just outside the sector tights set by Chase Auto in the Post-Sept. 11 environment. (see graphic below)

Also in the auto sector, used car dealer and Circuit City unit CarMax sold $641.725 million of prime used car loan-backed paper through the lead of Wachovia Securities. The 2001-B deal priced in line with USAA in the money market tranche, but further out on the curve priced seven to 14 basis points cheap to USAA.

It was a strong week for some of the less visible asset classes, with student loans, agricultural equipment loans and recreational marine vehicles all represented.

Wells Fargo's first-time offering of $555 million of student-loan paper through Salomon (See ASR 10/08/01), had the issuer on its way to funding in line with benchmark and former GSE Sallie Mae. The FFELP-guaranteed collateral was talked approximately four basis points wide to Sallie's last pricing, which came pre-Sept. 11. The 2001-1 offering was scheduled to price last Thursday afternoon at levels of eight and 18 over three-month Libor for the two- and seven- year seniors, respectively.

Agricultural equipment manufacturer CNH Equipment sold approximately $1 billion of loan-backed notes, pricing where one could expect a subprime auto deal to come in but outside of whre rival John Deere priced its most recent offering. Given that CNH rivals both Deere and Caterpillar in size and competes with both directly (Deere makes agricultural equipment; Cat makes construction equipment) the deal offered good value and a strong name, analysts said.

And following up on its most recent home-equity offering, IndyMac sold $32.5 million of NIM paper via Credit Suisse First Boston, which also handled the HEL deal. The single-tranche 1y FSA-wrapped deal priced to float at 38 basis points over one-month Libor.

Despite off-the-run names tapping other sectors of the market, this was not seen in home equity assets, as only the benchmark names are able to seamlessly complete deals in this environment. Last week, the sector highlights came from Countrywide and Long Beach Mortgage. Countrywide priced $390 million of home-equity loan paper through unit Countrywide Securities and WaMu unit Long Beach sold a mammoth $1.975 million HEL deal via Greenwich, $1.223 million of which featured a Fannie Mae surety wrap.

With the exception of the FMGT 2001-13 class, with a 2.7-year average life, which priced at 15 basis points over one-month Libor, comparable paper for each deal priced almost uniformly.

Triple-A-rated 2.5-year senior/sub paper from Long Beach came in at 33 basis points over one-month Libor, versus 34 over for Countrywide. But Countrywide richened to levels of 85 over one-month Libor for five-year double-As (88 over for Long Beach double-As and 130 basis points over Libor for five-year single-As (135 over for Long Beach single-As)

From the bad timing department, just hours after ANC Rental announced it would seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - citing the slowdown in travel-related auto rentals - Budget Rent-A-Car announced its long-awaited fleet-lease deal through Deutsche Banc. The $200 million offering, dubbed Team Fleet Financing Corp. 2001-3, is actually viewed as much safer collateral than ANC, due to each company's reliance on airport-originated rentals (roughly 50% for Budget versus 90% for ANS units Alamo and National). As of press time the deal had not priced.

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