A slow week of supply came to an early close, as the new issue calendar was cleared by late Wednesday. The fact that most issuers' quarterly funding needs had been addressed earlier in the month as well as the upcoming Independence Day holiday were cited as the main reasons for the slowdown, which saw just $2.2 billion of dollar-denominated issuance price, down from the meager $4.1 million the week before.

Leading the week's issuance was a mammoth multi-currency global securitization of U.K. residential mortgages from Abbey National vehicle Holmes Financing No. 4, which topped $3.6 billion (U.S. dollar equivalent).

The offering, led jointly by Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney, consisted of dollar, eurodollar, sterling and Swiss franc-denominated paper.

Demand for the dollar-denominated paper was focused on the $54.5 million triple-B rated 3.29-year 1-C class, which tightened five basis points from initial guidance and the $1.05 billion 2.66-year 1-A class, which moved fast after guidance was moved one to two basis points wider.

Specialty retailer Spiegel Inc. tapped the market for $600 million of credit card-backed paper via the lead of JPMorgan Securities.

The single-tranche deal, with a 3.7-year MBIA-wrapped soft bullet structure, priced at par with a coupon of one- month Libor plus 28 basis points.

"This deal went well. This is a storied issuer so investors had to do their homework," said Giuseppe Pagano, a vice president in JPMorgan's asset-backed group.

"We went out with price guidance in the mid-to-high 20 basis point area (over one-month Libor) and had about 80% placed at plus 27. In order to make the deal a blowout we widened to 28 over and we were 50% oversold. All investors didn't get all that they wanted," he added.

The additional yield brought in heavier than usual interest from European investors, with approximately half of the supply going across the pond.

Staying in retail credit cards, Saks Inc. sold $65.3 million of triple-B rated de-linked subordinated notes via Banc of America Securities (see story p. 6). The 2001-2 C class, in a simpler and less expensive fashion, pre-enhances up to $500 million of triple- and single-A rated paper to be offered in the future.

Ace Securities Corp., an issuance vehicle of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, sold just over $311 million of recreational and marine vehicle loan-backed securities on behalf of Minneapolis-based FreedomNation Financial LLC.

Also, Countrywide Home Loans Inc. quietly sold $137 million of a high loan-to-value deal via the lead of unit Countrywide Securities in the private Rule 144A market.

Secondary trading slowed last week, following fairly heavy trading seen for most of the month. "Early in the week everybody was paralyzed ahead of the FOMC meeting. After that I think we just wanted to get out of the office," a trader said.

Looking ahead, the primary market should remain slow through this week with no issues scheduled for the holiday-shortened week. Most in the market expect the pipeline to fill up somewhat starting the week of July 9.

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