UPDATE 1-U.S. municipal bond funds outflows jump-Lipper

March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:57pm EDT

March 21 (Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds reported net weekly outflows of $261 million in the week ended March 20, after outflows of $112.5 million the previous week, Lipper said on Thursday.

That pushed the four-week moving average from net inflows to a net outflow of $36.6 million. A week earlier, the four-week moving average was net inflows of $101.49 million.

For two months, investor money poured into municipal bond funds on a net basis before reversing three weeks ago, according to Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company.

High-yield funds followed a similar pattern, registering weekly outflows of $36.9 million, compared to outflows last week that totaled $83.2 million. The four-week moving average for high-yield muni funds also turned negative, with Lipper reporting outflows over the period at $12.9 million.

Exchange-traded funds showed outflows of $21 million in the latest week, a sharp reversal from the previous week's $207.6 million of net inflows.

Retail investors, who favor municipal bond funds, have been turning away from fixed income as the stock market makes historic gains.

Retail investors held steady, again buying 1.7 bonds for every one they sold in the week ended March 20, the same as during the previous three weeks, according to BondDesk Group.

The number of bonds bought totaled 62,613, while the number of bonds sold was 37,236.

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