While U.S. investors remained net purchasers of mutual fund assets for the week ended Feb. 27, political uncertainty seems to have shaken them somewhat.
Investors purchased some $7 billion worth of funds, according to Lipper data. But conventional equity funds and equity ETFs suffered their first week of net redemptions, and investors wary of the looming sequestration deadline spent on taxable bond funds ($4 billion), municipal debt funds ($300 million) and money market funds ($3.6 bilion).
Some of the concerns rocking investors' minds? "On Monday, February 25, political leaders from both the U.S. and Italy put a scare in the market, leading to the Dows worst one-day session of the year (a drop of 216.40 points) as investors brooded over the looming U.S. sequestration and the possibility of the newly formed government in Italy dismantling its nations austerity measures," wrote Tom Roseen of Lipper.
That said, "Fed Chairman Bernankes continued commitment to his quantitative easing program, news of new home sales leaping 15.6% in January, and the Case-Shiller home price index rising 0.9% in December supported the market move back into positive territory, and the Dow produced its first back-to-back triple-point gains for the year."
Eight equity ETFs experienced net outflows for the first week in eight, amounting to $3.8 billion in redemptions. Those firms that posted net outflows for ETFs included "fund behemoths" SPDR Gold and SPDR S&P 500 ETF at $2.1 billion and over $736 million, respectively, Roseen reported. Meanwhile, winners in the ETF space were WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (+$342 million) and iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate ETF (+$334 million), which attracted the largest net inflows of its category.
Outside of ETFs, "investors kept their foot on the peddle," with conventional equity mutual funds taking in $2.8 billion for their eighth consecutive week of net inflows $800 million for domestic equity funds, and $2 billion for nondomestic funds. Domestic large-cap funds and Lipper's emerging market funds classification came out on top: Large-cap funds drew the most in net new money ($400 million), while emerging markets funds enjoying the largest inflows, attracting $1.1 billion, its seventh week in eight drawing over $1 billion.
"Conventional mutual fund investors took on a little more risk" in the taxable fixed income funds space, spending $1.6 billion on corporate investment-grade debt funds ($1.2 billion from bank loan funds) and $1.4 billion on flexible income funds.
Municipal debt funds (ex-ETFs) experienced net inflows for the ninth consecutive week, taking in $0.3 billion.