Businessman check seriously analyzes a finance report investor colleagues discussing new plan financial graph data. bank managers task. Concept business and finance ,Account analyzes planing

Global equities markets hit record levels for new issue activity in the first half of 2021, while debt market activity eased, according to new data from Refinitiv.

The financial data firm reported that equity issuance was up by 50% from the same period a year ago to US$686.5 billion and the volume of new issue activity rose by 46% with 3,662 deals — both record levels.

First-half records were also set for global initial public offering (IPO) activity and secondary issuance activity.

Excluding SPACs, global IPOs raised US$209.3 billion in the first six months of the year, which was more than triple the total for the same period last year.

Follow-on offerings raised US$362.8 billion in the first half, the strongest start to a year since 2015. The number of deals reached a record of nearly 2,400.

Despite setting records for first-half activity, both the volume and value of deals declined in the second quarter of 2021 when compared to Q1, Refinitiv reported.

Goldman Sachs continued to lead the global underwriter league tables, followed by Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, BofA Securities Inc. and Citi.

RBC Capital Markets was the top Canadian firm, in 17th place. BMO Capital Markets came in at 21st (up from 25th spot last year) and Canaccord Genuity ranked 23rd, up from 38th place in last year’s first-half rankings.

On the debt side, new issue activity declined by 8% in the first half compared with the same period a year ago. Still, the debt markets registered a strong US$5.3 trillion in new issue business across 13,588 deals (down 2% from a year ago).

High-yield debt was a spot of strength, with US$400.9 billion in new issuance, up 52% from 2020 levels to set a new first half record.

Green bond issuance also surged to US$254.7 billion in the first half, setting a new record for the emerging sector as issuance rose 188% from year-ago levels.

Offerings of investment-grade corporate debt dropped by 18% in the first half to US$2.4 trillion — still the second-strongest start to a year on record.

The debt underwriter rankings remained unchanged at the top of the board, with JP Morgan, Citi and BofA leading the way in the first half. Goldman and Morgan Stanley rounded out the top five.

Again, RBC Capital Markets was the top-ranked Canadian firm in 12th place, followed by TD Securities, which ranked 22nd.