U.S. municipal bond buying drops off, slowing trading

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:50am EST

WASHINGTON Nov 20 (Reuters) - The volume of municipal securities traded in the third quarter dropped 6.7 percent to $794.9 billion from the same period a year ago, as buying tapered off, data released on Tuesday showed.

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, a self-regulatory organization that compiles data for the $3.7 trillion muni market, said the par amount traded was also 6.1 percent lower than in the second quarter of 2012.

When the MSRB analyzed the number of trades over the quarter, it found the total number of trades dropped, as well, by 2.9 percent, from the third quarter of 2011.

The downswing was likely due to customers cutting back on buying, the MSRB said.

"Customer buying activity decreased to an average daily par amount of $6.3 billion," in the third quarter from $6.9 billion during the same quarter the year before.

Revenue bonds were traded the most, accounting for more than two thirds of trades measured by par amount, followed by general obligation debts.