Muni Fund Outflows Continue

Municipal bond mutual funds have experienced net outflows for 22 straight weeks through last Wednesday, according to Lipper data, bringing the total outflow to nearly $56 billion.  There were $746 million in net outflows this week, down from $1.3 billion the week prior, but the four-week moving average ticked up to $868 million from $718 million. Despite the ongoing drop in demand, the iShares ETF MUB, the largest muni ETF in the market, is now trading at the smallest discount to NAV since May, when a spike in Treasury rates coupled with significant credit events sparked a dash for the exits in the municipal market.  According to some, this convergence of price to NAV is a positive sign of improving retail investor sentiment and is a leading indicator that fund outflows will moderate.  While this remains to be confirmed, supply has been quite low this year and will very likely end up materially lower than last year, thus supporting prices despite the lack of investor demand.  In our own portfolios, we have noticed that price evaluations are significantly lagging market action.  While not atypical during times of heightened volatility, we expect the evaluation services to catch up with the ongoing rally as this quarter progresses.