DALLAS — While the volume of municipal bond sales in the Southwest fell nearly 35% to $17.8 million in the first half of 2011 compared to a year earlier, industry executives haven't lacked things to do.

In a world where Utah now has a higher Standard & Poor's rating than the United States and every state and local government faces unprecedented budget pressures, financial advisors and other professionals are helping clients read the markets, look for refunding opportunities, and analyze the consequences of new debt.

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