Fixed-income funds are headed for 2010 returns of between 1.8% and 7.4% on average, according to preliminary Lipper data through Dec. 23, lagging equity funds' expected 16% average returns for the full year.
Tax-exempt municipals are among the weakest-performing fund categories. They have dropped -1.87% in December and -4.25% for the quarter. For the year through Dec. 23, though, the group – which includes 1,822 funds — is up 1.76%.
Some funds have managed to produce some decent returns. The YieldQuest Tax-Exempt Bond Fund (YTEIX), for instance, has moved up 6.24% in December and 9.78% for the fourth quarter through Dec. 23.
Year to date, the Pioneer High Income Municipal Fund (HICMX) has moved up 6.87%, while the Ivy Muni High Income (IYIAC) has advanced 6.81%.
The 3,650-plus funds in this category are up 7.41% through Dec. 23, Lipper says. For the past month and fourth quarter, they have declined about -0.55%.
U.S. government debt and Treasuries dropped about 1% recently but are poised to end the year with returns of about 4.1%. They had returns of 3.7% in the third quarter of 2010, according to Lipper analyst Jeff Tjornehoj.