Displaying items by tag: munis

According to Vanguard, investors that allocated part of their portfolios to low-yielding municipal bonds at the beginning of last year should now be looking forward to the prospect of higher income, thanks to a rapid rise in rates. In a fixed-income report for the first quarter, the fund firm wrote, “Following a year with $119 billion of outflows from municipal funds and ETFs, we expect the tide to turn. For high-income taxable investors, we are expecting a municipal bond renaissance.” According to the report, muni bonds only offered yields of around 1% at the start of 2022, compared to yields that now exceed 3% before adjusting for tax benefits. Tax-equivalent yields are at 6% or even “meaningfully higher for residents in high-tax states who invest in corresponding state funds.” Vanguard said that this makes munis a “great value compared with other fixed income sectors and potentially even equities—especially with the odds of a recession increasing.” According to the Vanguard report, muni bonds also remain strong from a credit perspective, with attractive spreads over comparable U.S. Treasurys and corporate debt. In fact, municipal balance sheets are stronger now than they’ve been in two decades, leaving states well-prepared to navigate an economic slowdown.

Finsum:According to Vanguard, higher yields and solid balance sheets make muni bonds a highly attractive option for investors this year.

Published in Bonds: Munis

JPMorgan Asset Management recently announced that it plans to convert four of its mutual funds into ETFs, pending fund board approval. This includes three municipal mutual funds. The firm plans to switch all share classes of the Limited Duration Bond, High Yield Municipal, Sustainable Municipal Income, and Equity Focus fund. If approved at a meeting scheduled for February, the funds will be converted to actively managed transparent ETFs in July. The JPMorgan Limited Duration Bond fund invests mainly in mortgage-backed or mortgage-related securities that it believes will perform well over market cycles. The JPMorgan High Yield Municipal fund is designed to deliver a high level of current income exempt from federal income taxes. The JPMorgan Sustainable Municipal Income fund is designed to deliver current income exempt from federal income taxes by investing in municipal bonds with the use of proceeds that provide positive social or environmental benefits. According to the firm's announcement, the new ETFs will mainly have the same investment strategies as the mutual funds. JPMorgan was one of the first companies to convert active mutual funds into ETFs with the Inflation Managed Bond ETF conversion taking place in April.

Finsum:JPMorgan announced that it plans to convert three active municipal bond funds into actively managed transparent ETFs in July.

Published in Wealth Management

It appears that the growing adoption of model portfolios is driving inflows into municipal ETFs. In fact, this year’s inflows to muni ETFs are double the average of the last three years, with total assets sitting at $105 billion. Investors added a record $27.8 billion into muni-bond ETFs this year. Mutual funds, on the other hand, lost more than $130 billion. According to estimates by Drew Pettit, director of ETF analysis and strategy at Citigroup Inc, nearly half of the inflows came from mutual fund holders selling shares at a loss to offset gains and swapping into ETFs. The continued adoption of model portfolios by advisors should contribute to even more muni ETF growth. In an article on WealthManagement.com, it was noted that model managers such as FMR LLC’s Strategic Advisers, Wealthfornt Advisors, and Creative Planning are some of the largest holders of Vanguard and Blackrock muni ETFs. Pettit indicated that advisors like automated, off-the-shelf products which allow them to focus more on client relationships and growing their business. In a recent interview he stated that “When model portfolios get their teeth into an ETF or a group of ETFs, you start to see this stable, almost constant, drip of money coming into these products. And it’s really hard to unseat that.”

Finsum:Muni Bond ETFs saw a record $27.8 billion in inflows this year as a result of the growing adoption of model portfolios by financial advisors.

Published in Wealth Management

The $4 trillion municipal debt market is expected to have a “bounce back year” in 2023, according to Charles Schwab’s Cooper Howard. The director and fixed-income strategist for the Schwab Center for Financial Research said in a recent Bloomberg TV interview that “A slower pace of interest-rate hikes, attractive yields, and relatively healthy state and local government finances should lure investors back after demand plunged this year.” He also stated “Credit quality is very high in the municipal bond market. State and local revenues have surged to record-level highs driven by the economic recovery. Given the rise in yields, it is more attractive for retail investors, so there will be more demand coming into the market.” Munis had fallen out of favor due to a combination of inflation and recessionary concerns. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, muni sales are down nearly 19% this year at about $351 billion. However, 10-year municipal yields have more than doubled since the start of the year. While recessionary fears may continue, the municipal market won’t be as affected due to healthy credit ratings. Howard expects municipal debt tied to public transportation to lead the rebound as the airline industry is bouncing back.

Finsum:Schwab strategist Cooper Howard predicts a bounce-back year for munis due to slow rate hikes, attractive yields, and healthy credit in state and local governments.

Published in Bonds: Munis

While politics have made ESG a controversial topic recently, there’s no denying the fact that its popularity is still soaring. That was made abundantly clear with the release of the Index Industry Association’s (IIA) sixth annual global benchmark survey, showing a surge in ESG benchmarks worldwide. According to the survey, the total number of indexes climbed internationally by 4.43% over the prior year, with ESG indexes worldwide increasing by 55%. However, the bigger news was that fixed-income ESG indexes surpassed equity ESG indexes for the first time. In fact, fixed-income ESG indexes increased by an unprecedented 95.8%. This breaks the previous record of 61.09% last year. While equity ESG index growth was slower, it still grew at a high rate of 24.15 percent. Muni indexes had the strongest year for non-ESG fixed income, rising 10.86%. Rick Redding, IIA’s CEO, said the following concerning the survey: “The index industry continues to meet the needs of the marketplace by creating innovative solutions. Highlighted again this year by record growth in ESG, index providers are empowering investors with the ability to define, track and better understand an ever-broadening range of financial markets, sectors, investment styles, and asset classes.”

Finsum:A recent index survey revealed that fixed-income ESG indexes have surpassed equity ESG indexes for the first time.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
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