U.S. Fund Flows Report: Investors Shy Away From Equity Funds

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Includes: EEM, EZU, HYG, TLT
by: Lipper Alpha Insight

By Patrick Keon


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Thomson Reuters Lipper's fund macro-groups (including both mutual funds and exchange-traded funds [ETFs]) experienced net outflows of approximately $266 million for the fund-flows week ended Wednesday, May 11. This almost-static outcome was the result of negative net flows from equity funds (-$6.1 billion) and taxable bond funds (-$514 million), offset by similar positive net flows into money market funds (+$5.1 billion) and municipal bond funds (+$1.2 billion).

Equities bounced back from two straight weeks of losses on the strength of one trading day. After losing roughly 2.5% combined in the previous two weeks the S&P 500 Index posted a gain of 0.3% this past week, all of which was captured on Tuesday, May 10, as the index appreciated 1.25% for the day. This one-day spike represented the best daily return for the index in two months and was driven by a surge in oil prices as well as a rally in some beaten-down sectors. Oil prices rose on the news that U.S. crude inventories would not increase as much as they have in recent weeks. Meanwhile, sentiment on the street was that the interest in healthcare and biotech stocks was not sustainable, since it was most likely driven by value hunters and was not an actual bullish view of the sectors.

The outflows from equity funds were basically split down the middle between mutual funds (-$3.1 billion) and ETFs (-$3.0 billion). Among mutual funds, domestic equity funds saw $3.2 billion leave their coffers, while nondomestic equity had net inflows of $100 million. For ETFs, nondomestic products accounted for the majority of the net outflows, with the iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (BATS:EZU) (-$950 million) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:EEM) (-$933 million) leading the way.

Taxable bond ETFs (-$1.1 billion) were responsible for all of the net outflows for the group, while taxable bond mutual funds took in almost $700 million of net new money. The iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:HYG) (-$1.5 billion) and the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:TLT) (-$697 million) had the largest net outflows among the ETFs, while funds in Lipper's Core Plus Bond Funds category had the largest net inflows (+$1.1 billion) among the mutual funds.

Municipal bond mutual funds extended their string of net inflows to 32 weeks - taking in $1.1 billion of net new money this past week. Funds in the High Yield Muni Debt Funds (+$287 million) and General and Insured Muni Debt Funds (+$278 million) classifications were the largest contributors to the week's inflow totals.

This past week's flows activity (+$5.1 billion net) marked the third consecutive week of positive flows for money market funds, during which time they took in $16.7 billion of net new money. Funds in Lipper's Institutional Money Markets Funds classification were responsible for all of the net inflows for the group this past week (+$9.2 billion).