A month-long trend of postitive inflows for tax-exempt money market funds came to an end as investors pulled $2.82 billion from the sector in the week ended Jan. 16 and total net assets dropped to $293.75 billion, according to the Money Fund Report, a service of iMoneyNet.com.

The last time the funds saw negative flows was in the week ended Dec. 12 when modest outflows of $157.4 million dropped assets to $289.78 billion.

Fund flows had been positive for the last four weeks. Tax-exempt muni money funds ushered in the first full week of 2012 last week with $5.8 billion of new cash, pumping assets up to $296.57 billion. That followed $857 million of inflows in the week ended Jan. 2, which saw assets increase to $290.77 billion.

The short-lived cycle of inflows began the week ended Dec. 19 when $643.2 million trickled back into the funds and assets inched up to $290.43 billion, a reversal from the chronic outflows of 2011 that resulted in a nearly 12% drop in tax-exempt assets overall for the year.

The money funds experienced their largest one-week movement in all of 2011 when $5.27 billion of inflows catapulted assets to $289.94 billion in the week ended Dec. 5.

This week, the average seven-day simple yield for the 456 reporting tax-exempt money funds remained at 0.01% for the 20th week in a row, while the average maturity remained unchanged at 30 days.

Meanwhile, assets fell across the board this week as the 1,114 taxable money funds saw $20.29 billion flee the sector in the week ended Jan. 17 and assets dropped to $2.364 trillion. That followed a week in which  $26.57 billion of new cash flowed into the taxable funds and assets settled at $2.384 trillion.

The seven-day yield for the taxable funds remained at 0.02% for the 25th straight week, while the average maturity increased one day to 44 days compared to the previous week.

Overall, the combined assets of the 1,570 money funds in the report fell by $23.11 billion, leaving total net assets at $2.657 trillion for the week ended Jan. 17, following $32.36 billion of inflows the previous week when assets rose to $2.680 trillion.

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