Municipal bonds were hampered by severe illiquidity in the secondary markets Monday and saw slight declines in the short- to mid-range maturities.

At the same time, a large selection of triple-A credits in the new issue market kept many high-net worth individuals and bond funds busy.

In terms of day-to-day total returns:

The high-grade, short end of the curve showed a total return of negative 0.11%, according to Municipal Market Advisors (MMA) data.

The high-grade, intermediate part of the curve showed a total return of negative 0.24%.

The high-grade, long end of the curve showed a total return of negative 0.17%.

The high-grade marketplace of bonds rated double-A or better saw extremely limited trading today. As of 3 p.m. EST a mere 350 trades of $1 million or more had occurred. By comparison, last Wednesday by that time there were more than 1,000 large trades. The day began with rumors of a few large sellers, who never quite materialized, but nonetheless the chatter easily scared any market makers out of municipals.

Bonds maturing between five and 10 years were again the worst performing range. New issues were priced with concessions in this range, and any secondary trades that occurred here were also noticeably cheaper than where they had traded previously. On the other hand, long bonds maturing in 20 years or more continued to maintain balance and were little changed.

In the non-investment grade sector of non-rated bonds or triple-B and lower, the liquidity situation was even worse. These bonds were offered in large amounts, but had very few takers. March tends to be a bad month for munis, and the expectation by many in the market is that lower-rated credits will get hit the hardest.

If you liked this article you might like

Municipal Bonds Little Changed Monday

Municipal Bonds Little Changed Monday

High-Grade Muni Bonds Post Gains

High-Grade Muni Bonds Post Gains

Municipal High-Grade Bonds Rally

Municipal High-Grade Bonds Rally

Municipal Bonds Rally Late

Municipal Bonds Rally Late

New Issues Weigh Down Municipal Bonds

New Issues Weigh Down Municipal Bonds