Following a brief stint of holiday inactivity, the asset-backed securities market last week showed renewed vigor, demand, and decent issuance, players said, as spreads tightened throughout the week, and press time totals neared $3 billion, thanks largely to auto loan deals.

Though issuance last week was not out of sight, it looks to be healthy going forward, said one trader. "I think you'll start to see activity starting to pick up," the trader said. "We've had the long weekend, and the conference last week. It kind of knocked some people out of the market."

Other market sentiments: Y2K is overblown, so let the trading begin.

It Was an Auto Nation

Auto deals paved the way last week, with Avis Rent a Car Inc. leading the pack. Avis, the No. 2 largest car renting company in the nation, priced a $1 billion deal, backed by auto leases.

The transaction was structured in two parts, with a two-year, $550 million A-1 class pricing at a spread of 32 basis points over one-month Libor, just within the wide side of initial talk. Chase Securities managed the deal with Lehman Brothers as co-manager.

The Rule 144A transaction is the first Avis has done through PHH Vehicle Management Services, a division Avis acquired from Cendant Corp in June, said Nancy Israel of Chase.

AmeriCredit Corp. had the second-biggest deal of the week: A $900 million auto loan-backed deal, increased in size from $750 million. Credit Suisse First Boston managed the three-part, transaction, which was guaranteed by Financial Security Assurance. The 3.23-year, $215 million A-3 class, priced on the tight end of talk - 115 basis points over Treasurys.

"I think the upsizing speaks for itself," said Kim Welch, spokeswoman for AmeriCredit. "The pricing was about the same as it was last quarter, with slightly lower spreads offset by higher treasuries. But all in, the cost was very similar to last quarter. We were pleased with demand."

AutoNation Inc. priced a $787 owner trust deal, backed by auto loans. The deal was structured in four parts. A one-year, $314 million A-2 class priced at 40 basis points over EDSF, and a 2.1-year, $196 million A-3 class priced at 92 over Treasurys. The transaction was guaranteed by MBIA Insurance Corp.

Saxon Mortgage Corp. priced the only non-auto deal of the week, a $300 million home-equity deal, managed by Banc of America Securities. The largest leg, a 3.15-year, $264 million AF class priced at 155 basis points over Treasurys, according to published reports.

Coming Down the Line

Players anticipate a heavy fourth quarter coming, with names like GMAC-RFC (see story p. 3) and Carmax Auto in the pike.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a credit deal or two that gets done next week," said one trader. "There seems to be a fair amount of accounts looking for paper. There's some pent up demand there."

Associates First Capital Corp. will come this quarter with a credit card-backed deal, according to a source at the company. The details are yet to be disclosed.

As for this week's sure things, Caryle High Yield Partners II roadshowed a $564 million collateralized bond obligation transaction, structured in four parts, with tranches ranging in size from $30 million to $387 million.

And Epic Resorts LLC pre-marketed a $95 million deal backed by timeshare receivables.

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