Countrywide Home Loans Inc., last year's leading U.S. ABS issuer, maintained its pace throughout the first quarter, bringing more than $21 billion of new-issue ABS to the market, according to data maintained by Thomson Financial. The Calabasas, Calif.-based mortgage giant accounted for 9.4% of the primary supply sold throughout the quarter. This outpaces its 1Q04 market-leading production of $17.3 billion.

Countrywide sold almost $7 billion more than the next-most-frequent issuer, Lehman Brothers, which sold $13.7 billion in the three-month period ending March 31, up from the $10.4 billion it sold over the same period a year ago. Showing the continued influence of the whole-loan market, Lehman was one of three brokerage houses that make up the five leading ABS issuers.

With $11.8 billion issued, Morgan Stanley was the third most prolific ABS issuer in 1Q05, with transactions coming from both its Morgan Stanley ABS Capital shelf, as well as one offering from its Discover Card Master Trust shelf. In the comparable period last year, Morgan Stanley had issued just $4.6 billion of ABS, ninth most overall.

With increased credit woes General Motors Acceptance Corp., which has multiple securitizing subsidiaries, was the quarter's fourth-leading ABS issuer, with $11.7 billion of ABS sold in the quarter, the bulk of which in the mortgage ABS sector via GMAC-RFC. In fact, GMAC had but one non-mortgage securitization in the quarter, a $2.1 billion auto dealer floorplan transaction that priced Feb. 17. GMAC's 1Q05 volume is 20.9% lower than the same period last year, when it sold $14.8 billion of ABS.

Bear Stearns rounds out the top five issuers, with just over $7.7 billion of supply, slightly more than AmeriQuest Mortgage, which sold $7.3 billion in 1Q05.

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