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By Daniel Bases
NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. municipal bond funds broke a 26-week streak of net outflows as investors tilted back into the sector for the first time since November, data from the Investment Company Institute showed on Wednesday.
ICI, a U.S. mutual fund industry trade group, reported a net inflow of $38 million for muni bond funds for the week ended May 11.
The outflow streak had seen a cumulative $45.3 billion leave the sector as investors were spooked by headlines about fiscal crises facing states and cities after the recession induced by the financial crisis.
Overall, investors put an estimated net $3.9 billion into U.S.-domiciled mutual funds, although for a third week running the positive balance was due to bond fund inflows as equity funds, domestic in particular, suffered outflows.
Equity mutual funds had net outflows of $950 million. Taxable bond mutual funds had inflows of $4 billion, extending their inflow streak to 20 weeks for a cumulative $69.8 billion.
The following table shows a breakdown of the ICI flows for the past three weeks (all figures in millions of dollars):
Estimated flows to long-term mutual funds:
4/27/2011 5/4/2011 5/11/2011 ======================================================= Total Equity -930 -1,913 -950 Domestic -758 -2,045 -2,251 Foreign -172 132 1,301 Hybrid 892 2,236 792 Total Bond 2,890 6,183 4,073 Taxable 3,507 6,457 4,035 Municipal -617 -275 38 ======================================================= Total 2,852 6,506 3,914 * Hybrid funds can invest in equity and/or fixed-income securities (Editing by James Dalgleish)