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NEW YORK CITY-At the end of the second quarter of 2001, $40.7 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities had been issued, well above last year’s second quarter of $28 billion and slightly below the record high of $43.4 billion in 1998. CMBS credit spreads tightened by 20 basis points, on average, as investors, seeking higher yields in a weak economy, moved from stocks to bonds, according to the Bear Stearns Real Estate Securities Monitor.

Looking ahead, most analysts are forecasting CMBS issuance will top the 1998 all-time high of $78.4 billion. Bear Stearns has revised its estimate upward from $75 billion to $85 billion. Unsecured debt issues by REITs year-to-date comes in at $4.8 billion compared to only $1.8 billion for the same period in 2000.

The Monitor, which is edited by Ross Smotrich, also notes that preferred REIT stock issued so far this year has been “significant,” amounting to $850 million as of June 18, a staggering increase over the $24 million for the second half of last year.

In addition, the overall Bear Stearns Real Estate Index moved up 15%, with the real estate specialty finance group rising 23.5% and real estate operating companies gaining 17.5%. On the other hand, REIT-associated operating companies dropped 76%.

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