April 1, 2013 / 3:41 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-U.S. muni deals rise in March to $31.2 billion

April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. states, cities and other local governments sold $31.2 billion of debt during March, up from $23.4 billion in February but down from $34.4 billion in March 2012, according to Thomson Reuters data published on Monday.

For the first quarter, primary deals in America’s $3.7 trillion tax-free debt market climbed 4 percent to $81.2 billion from $78.1 billion during the first three months of 2012, Thomson Reuters said.

New money deals, or offerings constituting fresh borrowing for projects such as roads, schools and other infrastructure, have been a diminishing share of the primary market but swelled to $14.2 billion during March from $9.1 billion during February.

New money offerings totaled just over $10 billion in March 2012, Thomson Reuters said.

The number of refunding deals, in which issuers replace higher-interest bonds with cheaper ones, declined 14.7 percent to 1,660 in the first quarter from the 1,945 sold during the same quarter last year. The number of new money deals in the first quarter climbed to 1,124 from 1,010 a year earlier.

Separately, Thomson Reuters reported that Bank of America Merrill Lynch was the top municipal bond bookrunning underwriter for the first quarter, with 101 deals totaling $12.2 billion. That was a 15 percent share of the $81.2 deals done in the first three months of 2013.

JP Morgan Securities LLC followed closely behind, with $12.01 billion in deals, or a 14.8 percent share, and Citi was third with $8.03 billion, which was equal to 9.9 percent of total deals.

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