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Muni ETFs Better Than Closed-End Funds as Fed Rate Hike Nears

The leverage imbedded within many closed-end funds (CEFs) will create even wider discounts to their respective net asset values as the first Federal Reserve rate hike nears.

The leverage imbedded within many closed-end funds (CEFs) will create even wider discounts to their respective net asset values as the first Federal Reserve rate hike nears, said Charles Earle, director of research & strategy at Gates Capital. 'The high-yield, government bond and corporate bond funds are not going to perform well,' said Earle. 'They have leverage going against them and the leverage will cost more to fund, eating into income and the higher rate on government bonds will eat into their competitiveness against those sectors.' Nevertheless, Earle does like the covered-call sector of CEFs, saying these unleveraged funds should continue to benefit from high levels of market volatility and expectations for only modest gains in the equity markets. He said he especially likes the Eaton Vance Tax-Managed Buy-Write Income Fund (ETB) and the Nuveen S&P 500 Buy-Write Income Fund (BXMX), which are producing current yields of 7.94% and 7.75%, respectively. 'They do particularly well in flat-to-down markets and its one of our top sectors right now,' said Earle. He said he continues to like municipal bonds as an asset class, but prefers to own exchange traded funds (ETFs) like the Van Eck Market Vectors HY Muni Fund (HYD) rather than muni CEFs due to the lack of leverage.

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