Bolstered by a rebounding manufactured-housing sector, the Lehman ABS Index posted its strongest half-year of returns versus Treasurys, according to Lehman Brothers researchers. Most of the record performance came in the first quarter, analysts said, as MH ABS stabilized in the wake of the Conseco Finance reorganization. By contrast, in the six-month period ending Dec. 31, 2002, amid a general widening across most sectors, the ABS Index lagged Treasurys by 135 basis points.

While ABS outperformed the MBS and Agency debt markets, by 78 and 68 basis points, respectively, it lagged the CMBS by 35 basis points and the corporate credit market - rebounding from a dismal 2002 - by a whopping 223 basis points.

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