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Western Gas (WGP) Ends IPO Drought

The latest dead period in the IPO market came to an end today as natural-gas company Western Gas Equity (WGP) made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company raised $378 million by offering 17.2 million shares. The $22-per-share price tag is above WGP’s expected range of $19 to $21 a share.

Early returns for the new stock are impressive. Despite pricing above its expected range, WGP shares rose 27% to $28.13 a share. The stock’s big bump bodes well for an IPO market that has been completely silent for the last two weeks.

Chinese social platform provider YY (NASDAQ: YY) was the last company to go public on a U.S. exchange, on November 20.

The fiscal cliff is largely to blame for the IPO drought. With so much uncertainty in the market right now, companies have been hesitant to go public.

Only seven IPOs have priced in November and December so far. That’s a far cry from last year, when 27 companies went public in November and December, and 2010, when there were 40 IPOs.

In fact, the last two months of the year are always a busy time for the IPO market. Since 2003, an average of 33 companies have gone public in November and December. So only seven IPOs two-thirds of the way into the usually busy two-month stretch is a noticeable decline.

Perhaps Western Gas’ first-day success will change that.

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