A record-breaking month of January came to a close last week, as the market priced just under $3 billion, wrapping up a $24 billion month of new-issue supply. This bests January 2001, which had a then-record $23.4 billion, a significant increase from the $9 billion that priced in the first month of 2000.

Most of the supply this month came in the auto sector, and approximately half of that issuance came in the form of one deal, the $5.7 billion Ford transaction - which kicked off the year. Home-equity paper made up approximately $6 billion of supply and credit card issuance also totaled just over $6 billion as well.

Within the credit card sector, Citibank is responsible for the most volume, with three new issues priced and one scheduled for last Friday. Each of Citi's deals have performed well in the primary, seeing increases in size as well as tightening from initial guidance. The issuer has set benchmark spreads for triple-A five-year fixed (+9.5bp/3ML) as well as the five-year (+99bp/3ML) and ten-year (+129bp/Swaps) areas of the curve for triple-B paper.

Issuance slowed a touch last week, ahead of the IMN/Fabozzi and SRI ABS conferences in Arizona. Also slowing the market has been the plethora of investor and issuer meetings that have been under way of late.

But there were some deals of note in the market last week, as Citibank brought two deals and Conseco and Bayview each marketed home-equity offerings. In more esoteric asset classes, Central Power & Light saw great success in pricing a stranded cost transaction and a small taxable tobacco litigation fee-backed deal priced out of the state of Florida.

Citi sold $350 million of 10-year subordinated, fixed-rate, notes mid-week, and came out the following day with a $750 million three-year floater, scheduled to price Friday.

The triple-B-rated fixed deal continued the issuers' blistering pace of spread tightening, moving in to yield 129 basis points over Swaps, one inside the tight end of initial talk, which was in the 130 to 135 basis points over Treasurys range. Although the three-year triple-A-rated floater had yet to price as of press time, it was talked in the extremely tight three-to four basis point range over three-month Libor.

Arguably the most successful new issue of last week was the stranded cost deal, which moved in three to five basis points from initial talk and bested the most recent, similarly structured offering by six to 13 basis points in comparably tenored classes.

Central Power & Light, a Texas-based unit of American Electric Power, priced a $797 million offering through Goldman Sachs that saw enormous demand. One class was reportedly six times oversubscribed, as the 2002-1 deal sprinted past the October deal from Reliant Energy.

In the home-equity sector, Conseco returned with its first offering of the year, $588 million of notes through Deutsche Banc that priced to mixed reviews, tightening in the front, but cheapening out on the curve. Bayview was in with a deal backed by a mix of home-equity and Alt-A RMBS via Lehman Brothers, although no pricing details were available at press time.

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