ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable

Takeaway: In the most recent week, absolute money flow into mutual funds was balanced but fixed income continues to display relatively better trends

Investment Company Institute Mutual Fund Data and ETF Money Flow:

In the most recent week, absolute money flow into mutual funds was balanced between fixed income and equity products but bond trends continue to display improving rates of change versus decreasing momentum in equities:

Total equity mutual fund flow improved sequentially week-to-week but produced a tally below the 2014 year-to-date weekly average. The $3.1 billion that came into all equity mutual funds during the most recent 5 day period ending April 2nd was split between a fairly weak $949 million inflow into U.S. equity funds versus the $2.1 billion that moved into international stock funds. This higher demand for foreign equity products has been consistent over the past two years with international stock fund inflow having averaged $2.8 billion per week this year and $2.6 billion per week last year in 2013 with domestic fund products averaging an inflow of just $1.2 billion thus far in '14 and a $451 million inflow last year in comparison. The 2014 running weekly average inflow for all equity mutual funds is now $4.0 billion, still an improvement from the $3.0 billion weekly average inflow for 2013. 

Fixed income mutual fund flow improved sequentially week-to-week and the 12 week linear trend lines in the product graphs below display improving momentum for bond funds versus equity funds. For the week ending April 2nd, $3.3 billion flowed into all fixed income funds, an improvement from last week's $1.2 billion inflow. The breakout of improving bond fund inflow amounted to $3.1 billion into taxable products and a $202 million inflow into tax-free or municipal products. The inflow into taxable products this week was the 8th consecutive week of positive flow and the inflow into municipal or tax-free products was the 12th consecutive week of positive subscriptions. The 2014 weekly average for fixed income mutual funds now stands at a $1.9 billion weekly inflow, an improvement from 2013's weekly average outflow of $1.5 billion but a far cry from the $5.8 billion weekly average inflow from 2012 (our view of the blow off top in bond fund inflow).

ETFs experienced positive trends during the week, with a very strong week of subscriptions into stock ETFs with $4.1 billion in net inflow with bond ETFs experiencing a slightly above average inflow of $1.6 billion for the most recent 5 day period. The 2014 weekly averages are now a $421 million weekly inflow for equity ETFs and a $946 million weekly inflow for fixed income ETFs. 

The net of total equity mutual fund and ETF trends against total bond mutual fund and ETF flows totaled a positive $2.3 billion spread for the week ($7.3 billion of total equity inflow versus the $4.9 billion inflow within fixed income; positive numbers imply greater money flow to stocks; negative numbers imply greater money flow to bonds). The 52 week moving average has been $7.2 billion (more positive money flow to equities), with a 52 week high of $31.0 billion (more positive money flow to equities) and a 52 week low of -$37.4 billion (negative numbers imply more positive money flow to bonds for the week). 

Mutual fund flow data is collected weekly from the Investment Company Institute (ICI) and represents a survey of 95% of the investment management industry's mutual fund assets. Mutual fund data largely reflects the actions of retail investors. Exchange traded fund (ETF) information is extracted from Bloomberg and is matched to the same weekly reporting schedule as the ICI mutual fund data. According to industry leader Blackrock (BLK), U.S. ETF participation is 60% institutional investors and 40% retail investors.   

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 1

Most Recent 12 Week Flow in Millions by Mutual Fund Product:

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 2

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 3

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 4

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 5

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 6

Most Recent 12 Week Flow Within Equity and Fixed Income Exchange Traded Funds:

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 7

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 8

Net Results:

The net of total equity mutual fund and ETF trends against total bond mutual fund and ETF flows totaled a positive $2.3 billion spread for the week ($7.3 billion of total equity inflow versus the $4.9 billion inflow within fixed income; positive numbers imply greater money flow to stocks; negative numbers imply greater money flow to bonds). The 52 week moving average has been $7.2 billion (more positive money flow to equities), with a 52 week high of $31.0 billion (more positive money flow to equities) and a 52 week low of -$37.4 billion (negative numbers imply more positive money flow to bonds for the week).

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Balanced on an Absolute Basis but Bond Slopes are more Favorable - ICI chart 9 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT 

 

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA