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Takeaway: Last week, investors sought safety in bonds, contributing a net $12.9 billion more to fixed income than equities

Investment Company Institute Mutual Fund Data and ETF Money Flow:

In the first week of 2016, investors reacted to the market turmoil by favoring bonds over stocks as measured by the -$12.9 billion spread between total equity flows and total bond flows (incorporating both mutual funds and ETFs). Positive numbers imply greater money flow to stocks with negative numbers imply greater money flow to bonds. With volatility on the rise in early 2016, we expect the aversion to stocks to continue.

Importantly, active domestic equity funds continued their losing streak, which we define as a string of outflows unbroken by four consecutive weeks of inflows. The following chart shows that domestic equity has been in outflow for 45 consecutive weeks with the current streak running at the fastest pace on record with a redemption average of -$4.0 billion per week. With the domestic equity exodus showing no sign of stopping, we continue to recommend a short position in shares of T. Rowe Price (see our TROW reports).


ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI19

 

In the most recent 5-day period ending January 6th, total equity mutual funds put up net outflows of -$2.4 billion, trailing the 2015 average outflow of -$1.5 billion. The outflow was composed of international stock fund contributions of +$1.6 billion and domestic stock fund withdrawals of -$4.0 billion. International equity funds have had positive flows in 41 of the last 52 weeks while domestic equity funds have had only 8 weeks of positive flows over the same time period.

 

Fixed income mutual funds put up net inflows of +$67 million, outpacing the 2015 average outflow of -$462 million. The inflow was composed of tax-free or municipal bond funds contributions of +$1.4 billion and taxable bond funds withdrawals of -$1.3 billion.

 

Equity ETFs had net redemptions of -$9.1 billion, trailing the 2015 average inflow of +$2.8 billion. Fixed income ETFs had net inflows of +$1.3 billion, surpassing the 2015 average inflow of +$1.0 billion.

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI1

 

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.


Most Recent 12 Week Flow in Millions by Mutual Fund Product: Chart data is the most recent 12 weeks from the ICI mutual fund survey and includes the weekly average for 2015 and the weekly year-to-date average for 2016:

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI2

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI3

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Cumulative Annual Flow in Millions by Mutual Fund Product: Chart data is the cumulative fund flow from the ICI mutual fund survey for each year starting with 2008.

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI12

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI13

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ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI15

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI16

Most Recent 12 Week Flow within Equity and Fixed Income Exchange Traded Funds: Chart data is the most recent 12 weeks from Bloomberg's ETF database (matched to the Wednesday to Wednesday reporting format of the ICI), the weekly average for 2015, and the weekly year-to-date average for 2016. In the third table are the results of the weekly flows into and out of the major market and sector SPDRs:

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI7

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI8

Sector and Asset Class Weekly ETF and Year-to-Date Results: In sector SPDR callouts, investors shunned technology stocks, redeeming -$506 million or -4% from the technology XLK ETF.

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI9

Cumulative Annual Flow in Millions within Equity and Fixed Income Exchange Traded Funds: Chart data is the cumulative fund flow from Bloomberg's ETF database for each year starting with 2013.

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI17

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI18

Net Results:

The net of total equity mutual fund and ETF flows against total bond mutual fund and ETF flows totaled a negative -$12.9 billion spread for the week (-$11.5 billion of total equity outflow net of the +$1.4 billion inflow to fixed income; positive numbers imply greater money flow to stocks; negative numbers imply greater money flow to bonds). The 52-week moving average is +$691 million (more positive money flow to equities) with a 52-week high of +$20.5 billion (more positive money flow to equities) and a 52-week low of -$19.0 billion (negative numbers imply more positive money flow to bonds for the week.)

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI10


Exposures:
The weekly data herein is important for the public asset managers with trends in mutual funds and ETFs impacting the companies with the following estimated revenue impact:

ICI Fund Flow Survey | Gentlemen Prefer Bonds - ICI11 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT 

 

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA