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U.S. stock funds pull most cash in nearly four months: ICI
June 7, 2017 / 5:05 PM / in 2 months

U.S. stock funds pull most cash in nearly four months: ICI

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, NY, U.S. May 18, 2017.Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S.-based stock funds are staging a comeback, attracting the most cash since February during the latest week, Investment Company Institute data showed on Wednesday.

The funds brought in $14 billion in cash during the week ended May 31, with the result driven by strong demand for equity exchange-traded funds, according to the trade group.

Stock mutual funds posted $1.5 billion in outflows, while their ETF counterparts gathered $15.5 billion, according to the ICI. Mutual funds are heavily used by retail investors, while ETFs draw a diverse set of clients, including fast-trading hedge funds.

The rebound for stock funds comes after cash seeped out of domestic equity funds for four straight weeks even as markets have trended higher since the U.S. presidential election last year.

"Resilience is much less related to the Trump presidency than people think," said Chris Konstantinos, director of international portfolio management at RiverFront Investment Group LLC in Richmond, Virginia, which invests using ETFs.

"It has mostly to do with the most synchronized global growth impulse we've seen since the credit crisis, and positive earnings coming through in areas like Eurozone, Japan and even the U.S."

The S&P 500 index .SPX has returned nearly 10 percent this year.

Yet markets are grappling with a tension between flaccid U.S. economic data and strengthening corporate earnings. S&P 500 earnings rose 15.6 percent last quarter from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, while U.S. job growth showed signs of slowing in May.

Stock and bond markets have been reading the economic situation differently. While U.S. equities have repeatedly set record highs, government debt markets forecast slower-than expected growth, pricing in just three U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes through 2019.

The Fed itself projects raising rates far more, and markets see a hike after their next policy meeting next Wednesday as a foregone conclusion.

The strong flows for equity ETFs may not be sustained. The largest U.S.-based domestic stock ETF, SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY.P), posted $4.1 billion in outflows on Monday, after the latest ICI measurement period closed, according to Thomson Reuters' Lipper research unit.

U.S.-based bond funds pulled in $5.1 billion during the most recent week, ICI said. The debt funds have not recorded a week of withdrawals this year.

Commodity funds recorded $458 million in withdrawals for the week, the most since early March.

The following table shows estimated ICI flows for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (all figures in millions of dollars):

5/31 5/24 5/17 5/10 5/3/2017

Equity 14,000 -832 4,357 7,421 3,545

-Domestic 8,483 -5,491 -5,604 -983 -4,254

-World 5,517 4,659 9,961 8,404 7,799

Hybrid -271 -212 -315 122 -1,386

Bond 5,060 8,067 10,381 6,358 7,167

-Taxable 4,799 7,402 9,791 5,721 6,933

-Municipal 262 665 591 637 234

Commodity -458 -152 -150 288 -14

Total 18,331 6,871 14,273 14,188 9,312

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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