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MTNs drift on market uncertainty

Kristine Falkgard

Issuance is down in the medium-term note market. September's terrorist attacks have left the market nursing its wounds. Fears about liquidity and concerns about widening spreads have persuaded many issuers and investors to stay away.

Triple-A issuers are an exception. Investors' flight to quality has made it an excellent time for triple-As to place paper and, despite many triple-A issuers already exceeding their funding targets for 2001, high-grade borrowers are flocking to the market

But for the lower-rated issuers life is more difficult. According to MTNWare, Triple-B issuance fell from a high of $13 billion in April this year to just $2.45 billion in September 2001 - its lowest level this year. Those lower-rated issuers that can afford to stay out of the market are doing so and, in the private corporate sector, issuance slumped to $2.83 billion in the first four weeks after September 11, a fall of 50% on the previous four weeks.

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