The Month In Closed-End Funds: December 2021

Jan. 10, 2022 12:20 PM ETMXE, GRX, MXF, RQI, DNP, FT, EDF, EDI, ASCIX, PFASX
Tom Roseen profile picture
Tom Roseen


  • For the second month in three, equity CEFs on average witnessed positive returns, rising 3.41% on a NAV basis for December.
  • While for the second month in a row fixed income CEFs posted returns in the black (+0.79%).
  • Thirty-five percent of all CEFs traded at a premium to their NAV, with 33% of equity CEFs and 36% of fixed income CEFs trading in premium territory.
  • Utility CEFs (+7.46%) for the first month in nine posted the strongest one-month returns of the equity classifications in the CEF universe for December.
  • For 2021, the average equity CEF posted an eyepopping 18.56% return, while the average fixed income CEF returned 5.68% for the year.

Business on Wall Street in Manhattan

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For the month, 90% of all closed-end funds (CEFs) posted net-asset-value (NAV)-based returns in the black, with 94% of equity CEFs and 88% of fixed income CEFs chalking up returns in the plus column. For the second month in three, Lipper’s domestic equity CEFs (+3.76%) macro-group outpaced its two equity-based brethren: world equity CEFs (+3.64%) and mixed-assets CEFs (+2.09%). The Utility CEFs classification (+7.46%) for the first month in nine outperformed all other equity classifications, followed by Developed Market CEFs (+5.26%) and Diversified Equity CEFs (+4.51%).

For the first month in four, the world income CEFs macro-group chalked up the strongest returns in the fixed income universe, posting a 1.87% return on average, followed by domestic taxable fixed income CEFs (+1.03%) and municipal bond CEFs (+0.24%). Fixed income investors became more risk seeking during the month. They pushed High Yield CEFs (Leveraged) (+1.95%) to the top of the domestic taxable fixed income leaderboard for the first month in four, followed by High Yield CEFs (+1.48%) and General Bond CEFs (+1.05%).

For December, the median discount of all CEFs narrowed 37 basis points (bps) to 2.03%—still narrower than the 12-month moving average median discount (3.29%). In this report, we highlight December 2021 CEF performance trends, premiums and discounts, and corporate actions and events.


This article was written by

Tom Roseen profile picture
Tom Roseen is the Head of Research Services, joining from Janus in 1996. He is the editor and an author of Lipper's U.S. Research Studies, FundFlows Insight Reports and FundIndustry Insight Reports. He is involved in fund analysis and research, and contributes to the monthly and quarterly equity and fixed income FundMarket Insight reports, webcasts and podcasts, where he focuses on domestic and world fund performance and attribution. His areas of expertise include closed-end fund analysis, portfolio evaluation, equity and fixed income fund research, fund flows analysis, after-tax performance and Lipper Leaders. Tom has a BS in finance from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a Master's in International Management from the University of Denver.

Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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