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Daimler Selling $2.25 Billion of Bonds; IBM Seeks Coupon-Record

By Patrick McGee Daimler AG (DAI.XE) is selling $2.25 billion of bonds Wednesday, leading a series of issuers who are taking advantage of record-low financing costs shortly after exiting earnings-related blackout periods. The German auto maker is joined by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)--which is striving for a record-low coupon on a $1 billion sale of 10-year bonds--as well as AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU), which seeks to price $750 million of 10-year debt. The market is receptive to new deals as equity markets climb and corporate bond trading rebounds after two tough sessions to begin the week. Markit's CDX North America Investment Grade Index, a proxy for risk sentiment, improved 0.9% in late afternoon trading. Recently-issued deals from FedEx Corp. (FDX) and eBay Inc. (EBAY) are also improving in the secondary market. For borrowers, the timing is ideal: Treasury rates have plummeted to record-lows this month, helping average corporate bond yields fall below the 3% mark for the first time in four decades of data compiled by Barclays. Moreover, issuance has dried up as companies focus on earnings, so investors are scrambling for deals that are available. Through financing unit Daimler Finance NA, the German auto maker is selling $1.5 billion of three-year notes and $750 million of seven-year notes, offering 1.08 and 1.45 percentage points more than comparable Treasury yields. The offered yield has dropped by 0.05 percentage point or more, thanks to extensive demand. Daimler posted second-quarter earnings earlier Wednesday, reporting a smaller-than-expected 11% drop in earnings as weakening car prices and the cost of new-model launches took less of a bite out of profit than anticipated. Daimler's deal carries provisional ratings of A3 from Moody's and an equivalent A-minus from Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings. IBM, which already holds record-low financing rates for three-year and seven-year debt, hopes to achieve a record-low-coupon trifecta by selling 10-year bonds at less than 2%. At launch, it looked as though IBM would sell bonds at 2.06%, according to people familiar with the transaction, but IBM could sell the bonds at a discounted dollar price to push the yield down and set a record, currently held by 3M Co. (MMM). IBM's bonds are expected to be rated Aa3 by Moody's, AA-minus by Standard & Poor's, and A-plus by Fitch Ratings. AngloGold is seeing enough demand for its $750 million deal that it could slash the offered yield by 0.20 percentage point to 3.80 points over Treasurys. Initial pricing guidance was a spread of 4.125 points. The South African miner is expected to release earnings Aug. 6. Earlier this week, it said second-quarter gold production rose 9% from the first quarter. Write to Patrick McGee at Subscribe to WSJ:

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