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The bond-fund ratings for the month of April show the weakness in the bond market, as three-fourths of the top 20 rated funds were tax-free money market funds, which are structured toward the short end of the municipal market, i.e., in municipals that are near maturity.

The other funds that comprise the list invest in municipals of longer maturity in national, single state, insured and high-yield municipals.

It is a very risk-averse composition of bond funds, and this, combined with recent weak consumer confidence numbers, a continued fall in housing prices, the specter of a rise in bank failures and lingering concerns about the health of the economy suggest we are far from clear of economic headwinds, especially in the debt markets.

Notable omissions from the list are corporate bond funds and Treasury bond funds.

All funds carry a TSC rating of A+.

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Sam Patel, CFA, is the manager of mutual fund research for the Ratings.

In keeping with TSC's Investment Policy, employees of Ratings with access to pre-publication ratings data must pre-clear any potential trade through the legal department, and are prohibited from trading any security that is the subject of an unpublished rating revision until the second business day after the rating is published.

While Patel cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback;

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