The Investment Company Institute released its latest weekly tally of "Money Market Fund Assets," reporting that MMF assets rose again during the period ended Jan. 2. The latest asset totals show MMFs posting their 10th week of gains out of the past 11 weeks, during which time they've risen by $175.4 billion, or 6.1%. Retail assets jumped in the past week and have led the surge since mid-October, but Inst assets declined. Government, Prime and Tax Exempt MMFs all increased. We review the latest asset totals below, as well as the most recent yield statistics. (See also the FT's "Investors pile into money market funds amid market turmoil".)

Overall fund assets reached $3.05 trillion, after climbing $209 billion, or 7.4% overall in 2018, according to ICI, their strongest showing in 10 years. Retail MMFs pushed up by $179 billion, or 17.6%, while Institutional MMFs were up just $31 billion or 1.7%. We review the latest asset figures below. In 2017, money fund assets increased by $113 billion, or 4.1%, following 4 years of flat assets. Assets fell slightly in 2011 after falling sharply in 2010 and 2009. Assets haven't grown this fast since 2008, when they rose by $685 billion, or 21.8%.

ICI writes, "Total money market fund assets increased by $8.51 billion to $3.05 trillion for the week ended Wednesday, Jan. 2, the Investment Company Institute reported today. Among taxable money market funds, government funds increased by $2.14 billion and prime funds increased by $4.28 billion. Tax-exempt money market funds increased by $2.09 billion." Total Government MMF assets, including Treasury funds, stood at $2.331 trillion (76.5% of all money funds), while Total Prime MMFs reached $569.54 billion (18.7%). Tax Exempt MMFs totaled $146.76 billion, or 4.8%.

ICI further explained that "Assets of retail money market funds increased by $20.01 billion to $1.19 trillion. Among retail funds, government money market fund assets increased by $11.92 billion to $706.34 billion, prime money market fund assets increased by $6.53 billion to $347.96 billion, and tax-exempt fund assets increased by $1.56 billion to $137.97 billion." Retail assets account for over a third of total assets, or 39.1%, and Government Retail assets make up 59.2% of all Retail MMFs.

The ICI release added, "Assets of institutional money market funds decreased by $11.50 billion to $1.86 trillion. Among institutional funds, government money market fund assets decreased by $9.78 billion to $1.62 trillion, prime money market fund assets decreased by $2.25 billion to $221.58 billion, and tax-exempt fund assets increased by $529 million to $8.79 billion." Institutional assets accounted for 60.9% of all MMF assets, with Government Institutional assets making up 87.6% of all Institutional MMF totals.

According to Crane Data's separate MFI Daily series, assets increased by $69.4 billion to $3.154 trillion in the month of December through 12/31, the largest monthly asset increase since December 2014 (and Dec. 2012 before that). MFI Daily shows $19.3 billion of the increase was from from Prime MMFs and $35.2 billion came from Govt MMFs. Retail MMFs jumped $52.5 billion while just $2.0 billion was from Inst MMFs.

Money fund yields moved higher for the second week in a row following the Fed's 9th quarter-point rate hike on Dec. 19, pushing our Crane 100 Money Fund Index above the 2.25% level for the first time in 8 years. The Crane 100, which tracks the 100 largest taxable MMFs, broke over 2.0% in late October (w/the Fed's last hike); it rose 8 basis points over the past week (after rising 8 bps the prior week too) to 2.27%, its highest level since June 2008. Yields for the Crane 100 have increased from 1.12% on Dec. 31, 2017, from 0.43% on Dec. 31, 2016, and from 0.13% on Dec. 31, 2015.

The Crane Money Fund Average, a simple average of all taxable money market funds (655) tracked by Crane Data, rose 8 basis points over the past week (after rising 7 bps the prior week) to 2.11% as of Wednesday, Jan. 2. Yields for the Crane Money Fund Average have increased from 1.80% on 10/31/18, from 0.92% on Dec. 31, 2017 and from 0.26% on Dec. 31, 2016.

Prime Institutional MFs now (as of 1/2/19) yield 2.23% on average, while Government Inst MFs yield 2.15%, a spread of a mere 8 basis points. (Treasury Inst MFs yield 2.11%.) Prime Retail MFs yield 2.13% vs. 1.82% for Govt Retail MFs (a much more generous spread of 31 bps). Tax Exempt MFs average a 7-day yield of 1.26% currently. (See our Money Fund Intelligence Daily for the latest yields and averages.)

The top-yielding money funds are currently paying annualized rates of well over 2.50% with some poised to hit 2.75%. Internal (not available to outside investors) fund Fidelity Money Market Central Fund (FID03) is yielding 2.68%, while DWS ESG Liquidity Cap (ESIXX) yields 2.67%. Morgan Stanley Inst Liq MMP Inst (MPUXX) is yielding 2.62% as of Wednesday (1/2/19), while Goldman Sachs FS MM Inst (FSMXX) is yielding 2.61%. Federated Inst Prime Obligs IS (POIXX) yields 2.58%, while Wells Fargo Heritage Sel (WFJXX) yields 2.57%. Among Retail funds, the highest-yielding offerings include: Fidelity Inv MM: MM Port Inst (FNSXX), which yields 2.56%, JPMorgan Liquid Assets Capit (CJLXX), which yields 2.55%, and UBS Prime Preferred Fund (UPPXX), which yields 2.54%.

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