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Wells Fargo Issues Largest Bank Bond in Three Months

Corporate bond issuance is usually sleepy on days when the Federal Reserve is set to announce its update to monetary policy, but continued market stability convinced Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) there was an opportunity to sell $2.75 billion of bonds. The deal marks the largest U.S. marketed bank bond issue since March 14, when Nordea Bank AB (NRDEF, NDA.SK) sold a $2.75 billion issue, according to data provider Dealogic. Wells Fargo hasn't issued a deal of this size since March 2009. Wells is offering $2 billion of fixed-rate bonds at 1.15 percentage points over the Treasury rate, plus $750 million of floating-rate notes at 0.92 percentage points over the three-month London interbank offered rate, or Libor. The Libor rate is 0.47 percentage points this week, according to Bankrate.com. The bonds are expected to be rated A2 by Moody's Investors Service, A-plus by Standard & Poor's, and AA-minus by Fitch Ratings. Elsewhere, Brasil Foods added $250 million to a $500 million, 10-year sale of 5.875% notes from last month. The add-on was priced at $102.839 per $100 of face value, yielding 5.50%, or 3.853 percentage points over Treasurys. The two deals bring the week's high-grade volume tally to $12.1 billion, according to Dealogic, in line with expectations that between $10 billion and $15 billion would be sold this week. Greg Hall, managing director in debt capital markets at Barclays, said issuers are using whatever windows of stability are available to them. "Another incentive for going to market now rather than waiting is the fact that many issuers will enter earnings blackout over the next few weeks and the summer slowdown will start to take effect in late July," Mr. Hall added. Bonds in the secondary market rallied ahead of the Fed meeting and were little changed after the central bank said it would continue its long-bond buying program through the end of the year. The program, dubbed Operation Twist, was previously scheduled to conclude at the end of this month. Fourteen of the 15 most active bonds in the secondary market outperformed Treasurys in late-trading, according to MarketAxess, and Markit's CDX Investment Grade Index, a proxy for corporate bond health, strengthened 0.6%. Write to Patrick McGee at patrick.mcgee@dowjones.com

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