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An unremarkable quarter for Florida municipal bonds

The average fund returned less than 1 percent in the first quarter of 2002.

By HELEN HUNTLEY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002

The first quarter was not a particularly remarkable one for Florida municipal bond fund investors. Most of them made a little money, but not much.

The average fund returned less than 1 percent, according to numbers compiled by Lipper. That means the tax-free dividends the fund paid out were partly offset by a small decline in share value.

The problem? Signs of economic recovery are putting upward pressure on interest rates.

Interest rates on long-term Florida municipal bonds have inched up about a quarter of a percentage point since the first of the year, while rates on short-term bonds have risen a bit more. That's good news for investors now in the market to buy bonds, but not so good for those who already own them. Prices for bonds and bond funds decline whenever market interest rates rise.

Florida bond funds have special appeal for Florida residents because they are exempt from the state intangibles tax.

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