Investors are fleeing U.S. stocks
in a way they haven't since 2004.
For 10 straight weeks a total of
$30 billion has left U.S. stocks, marking the longest streak of outflows since
2004, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a Thursday report, citing EPFR
Investors turned instead to
emerging markets and European and Japanese stocks, which saw $36 billion in
inflows over the last 10 weeks, the report said.
Streaks of consecutive weekly US
stock fund outflows
Source: BofA Merrill Lynch
Global Investment Strategy, EPFR Global
BofAML's breakdown of last week's
fund flows pointed to more aversion to risk among investors, and could add to
some analysts' worries about deteriorating market internals.
The 10-week outflow from U.S.
stocks comes despite the S&P 500's nearly 1 percent gain this quarter and a
record high on Aug. 8.
The report also pointed out the
turn away from U.S. stocks coincided with the late
June surge in the euro against the U.S. dollar to its strongest in
nearly a year, after comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi suggested
higher inflation and tighter monetary policy soon in the euro zone.
The euro subsequently climbed to
its highest in more than two years in early August, and traded slightly below
those levels near $1.186 Friday. Draghi is scheduled to speak later Friday
afternoon at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
In the week ended Wednesday,
European stocks saw their first outflows in seven weeks, the BofAML report
said, while Japanese stocks saw their largest inflow in five months at $3.1
Major contributors to U.S. stock
market gains in the last several months saw significant outflows in the week
ended Wednesday, the BofAML report said:
- Technology — $600 million, largest in 49 weeks.
- Financials — $35 million, second straight week.
- Consumer — $1.5 billion, third largest ever
The defensive utilities sector was
the only U.S. stock sector to see slight inflows in the last week.
By investing style, investors
withdrew $1.6 billion from U.S. growth stock funds and $1.1 billion from U.S.
value stock funds, the BofAML report said. Only U.S. small caps saw inflows, at
Investors also piled into
Treasury bonds, which saw their greatest inflows in 10 weeks at $900 billion.
But riskier high-yield debt posted $2.2 billion in outflows, its eighth week
out of 10 of withdrawals, the report said.
That said, analysts don't expect
the defensive turn to result in a large market downturn.
"This is definitely weaker
U.S. equity inflows but still net positive and my sense is that positioning is
still long and the VIX back at 11 shows there is still complacency," Ilya
Feygin, managing director and senior strategist at WallachBeth Capital, said
Friday. He estimated U.S. stock exchange-traded funds, passive investment
products which have risen in popularity over mutual funds, gained $6.1 billion
in net inflows since June 30.
In addition, BofAML said its
proprietary Bull & Bear indicator did not trigger a "sell"
signal, meaning the market still remains in a rally mode.
And while overall the bank's
wealthy private clients turned more defensive, their allocation to one traditional
safe haven, precious metals ETFs, has fallen to record lows, BofAML said.
Private client allocation to
precious metals ETFs as % of assets under management
Source: Bank of America
Merrill Lynch, BAC data
here for the original article from CNBC.