Corporate Bonds: Less of a Crunch

Amid the gloom of the credit markets, at least one area is showing surprising signs of life: Investment-grade U.S. companies—highly rated by the credit agencies and presumed to possess moderate to low risk—have sold more than $132.8 billion in bonds in 2009, a 22.6% increase over the same period last year, and leaps and bounds above the low levels seen this past fall, according to Standard & Poor's. Recent issuers include Cisco Systems (CSCO), which on Feb. 9 sold $2 billion each of 10- and 30-year notes, and a $2.65 billion offering from Caterpillar (CAT) last week.

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