By: Steve Smith
It seems like investors are quickly putting the February correction behind. After a brief period of pulling money out of the stock market even as the major indices rebounded, they’ve now resumed injecting capital into U.S. stock funds. Today’s investing advice is more cautionary, because a recent report from Bank of America thinks this patter could be a cause for concern.
According to BofA CIO Michael Hartnett, a record $43.3 billion was put into equities this week as investors shrugged off trade war risks that had initially sent stocks reeling, even as those very risks returned in the subsequent week and have pressured the S&P lower on four consecutive days.
One week after US stocks suffered massive outflows despite a net inflow into global equity funds while the S&P jumped, everyone is back in the pool. A “wall of money” returned with a vengeance this week, driving record inflows into both global and US-focused equity funds as concerns around trade dissipated, while billions more were plowed into tech stocks, according to the latest weekly fund flow report from Bank of America.
It’s also worth noting much of the money is coming from overseas as the U.S., despite modest growth, is seen as both a safe harbor and solid upside potential.
There was no good news for active investors, however, as more than all of the inflows ($43.9BN, also a record) went to ETFs, with mutual funds suffering another weekly outflow of $0.6 billion). On a YTD basis, a record $131BN has been allocated to ETFs, or 3.6% of AUM, with just $21BN going to “long onlies”
Meanwhile, bond funds saw a “more humble” $2.4 billion in inflows.
Looking at recent trends, BofA calculates that equity inflows are outpacing bond inflows for the first time since 2013, with annualized flows of $717 billion. Bond funds managed relatively minute inflows of $2.4 billion this week.
To Hartnett, these “Flows indicate clients positioned for higher EPS, higher short rates, higher bond yields, lower US dollar.”