First Trust, the eighth-largest U.S. issuer of exchange traded funds, plans to launch an actively managed municipal bond fund next week.
The Illinois-base company said it expects to launch the First Trust Managed Municipal ETF on May 15. The new ETF will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker “FMB.”
“The fund seeks to generate current income that is exempt from regular federal income taxes. Long-term capital appreciation is a secondary objective. Under normal market conditions, the fund will seek to achieve its investment objectives by investing at least 80% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in municipal debt securities. The fund is managed by First Trust using a discipline approach that focuses on a combination of quantitative analysis and fundamental research,” according to a statement issued by First Trust.
Muni debt default rates are still historically low. The overall muni bond default rate was 0.107% in 2013, down from 0.144% in 2012. In comparison, U.S. junk bond default rates were 2.1% for 2013. [Time to Look at Muni Bond ETFs]
Recent changes to the U.S. tax code have boosted the allure of tax-advantaged muni bonds. First Trust notes that economic challenges faced by municipalities across the U.S. bolsters the argument for active management with munis.