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Gold fund withdrawals spike as post-U.S. election trades wane-ICI

By Trevor Hunnicutt
    NEW YORK, Nov 30 The post-election enthusiasm
for U.S. stock funds is waning, while a strong dollar helped
push commodity funds to their largest withdrawals in more than
three years, Investment Company Institute data showed on
Wednesday.
    Investors pulled $1.6 billion from U.S.-based commodity
funds during the six days through Nov. 22, according to ICI,
which combined with the prior week's result to mark the worst
showing since 2013. The category includes funds that invest
directly in gold.
    Meanwhile, U.S.-based domestic stock fund inflows slowed to
$6.9 billion, and world equity funds accumulated $2.2 billion
after four straight weeks of withdrawals, the trade group's data
showed.
    "Stocks are at the top of their valuations," said Bob Smith,
president and chief investment officer at Sage Advisory Services
Ltd. "They've had a hell of a run."
    The year has been marked by a move out of stocks and into
bond funds, but investors pumped record cash into U.S. equity
ETFs and drained fixed-income funds after the Nov. 8 election.
    Markets have been betting that Donald Trump's surprising
victory could spark bond-harming inflation given the
president-elect's stated plans to boost infrastructure spending
and cut taxes, moves that may bolster stocks.
    Inflation could also force the Federal Reserve to raise U.S.
interest rates faster than markets expect.
    Gold is highly sensitive to higher rates, which raise the
opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion,
while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
    Taxable bond funds took in $792 million after $5 billion
were snatched from the investments a week earlier. Municipal
bond outflows slowed to $2.5 billion, from $4.7 billion.
    Some investors now see the bond selloff as having run its
course.
    "The whole bond market is oversold," said Smith. 
    The $1.7 billion pulled from the bond funds overall during
the six-day period is minor compared with the $9.7 billion
withdrawn the week before, according to ICI.
    The following table shows estimated ICI flows, including
ETFs (all figures in millions of dollars):
    
              11/22   11/16     11/9     11/2    10/26/16
 Equity       9,178  21,468   -7,550   -8,297      -1,690
 -Domestic    6,931  23,161   -6,320   -6,824      -1,304
 -World       2,246  -1,693   -1,230   -1,473        -386
 Hybrid        -792  -1,757   -3,301   -1,874          79
 Bond        -1,723  -9,715    2,757   -4,597       3,938
 -Taxable       792  -5,031    2,867   -4,591       3,288
 -Municipal  -2,515  -4,684     -110       -6         650
 Commodity   -1,647  -1,860      637      313        -831
 Total        5,016   8,136   -7,457  -14,455       1,496
 
 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, editing by G Crosse)

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