Primary U.S. ABS issuance slowed last week, to the tune of $8.3 billion, as the focus on mortgage ABS continued. With the credit card sector accounting for under $1 billion and auto-related supply just topping $1 billion, the home equity sector once again led the way, with a little help from the student loan sector.

Mortgage-related ABS totaled about $3.5 billion throughout last week, with three large global MBS deals hanging over the market. Student loan ABS issuance, however, totaled $2.3 bullion on two transactions.

While the number of transactions in the home equity sector has been plentiful, deal size of late has been smaller than earlier in the year. For example, aside from a $1.97 billion offering from Countrywide Home Loans, home equity deals averaged $366 million in size last week.

AmeriQuest Mortgage, GMAC-RFC and Irwin Union Bank & Trust all priced deals. Deutsche Bank's ACE Securities shelf also priced a deal. Globally, units of Abbey National plc and Northern Rock were circulating, as was an Australian MBS from Commonwealth Bank of Australia unit, Medallion Trust.

GMAC-RFC's RAMP 2004-RS deal, backed by program exception scratch and dent collateral, priced its three-year triple-A floater at 24 basis points over one-month Libor. Three-year fixed-rate notes priced to yield 65 basis points over swaps; five-year AI3 notes yield 110 basis points over swaps. JPMorgan Securities led the offering.

AmeriQuest's Quest shelf, which sold $239 million of series 2004-Z1 notes through joint leads Citigroup Global Markets and Credit Suisse First Boston, priced its 2.8-year triple-A notes at 33 basis points over one-month Libor.

While lacking in auto loan issuance, the auto sector priced two deals last week. Truck manufacturer NaviStar Financial priced $600 million in truck loan-backed ABS via Banc One Capital Markets and Citigroup. Offering a pickup from compressed spreads in the auto sector, NaviStar's one-year A2 class priced at 9 basis points over EDSF, with its two- and three-year notes pricing at 15 and 19 basis points over swaps, respectively.

Also in the sector last week, Ford Motor Co. subsidiary Hertz Rent-A-Car roadshowed its first-ever rental fleet lease ABS, totaling $500 million and led by Lehman Brothers. The single tranche, MBIA-wrapped transaction had yet to price and was expected to do so either late last or early this week.

Bank One N.A. and Capital One Financial were the loan names seen in the credit card sector, each pricing to strong demand that led to increases in size prior to pricing. Bank One's first triple-B offering of the year, the five-year series 2004-C1 deal, priced at 50 basis points over one-month Libor following an increase to $150 billion, from the initial $125 million.

Later in the week, Capital One priced a five-year senior floater via Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley, at nine basis points over Libor. Not only was COMET 2003-A2 increased to $750 million from the initial $500 million, but it also priced one basis point inside of guidance, inching closer to its peer group that trades in the single digits over Libor.

The student loan ABS sector had an alternative focus last week. In addition to Sallie Mae's first alternative loan ABS of the year - a $1.3 billion of series 2004-A notes via Merrill Lynch - NorthStar Educational Finance completed its first-ever term ABS via Banc of America Securities (see related story, p. 9).

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