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U.S. fund investors kept buying bonds ahead of selloff -ICI

By Trevor Hunnicutt
    NEW YORK, Sept 14 U.S. fund investors
accelerated their move into bonds last week, Investment Company
Institute data showed on Wednesday, on bets that corporate and
emerging-market debt would be a safe haven as expectations about
interest rates change.
    Bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds took in $6.8
billion combined in the seven days through last Wednesday, the
data showed, while yanking $2.7 billion from stock funds.
    But market sentiment changed on Friday, sparking the largest
stock sell-off across the globe since June and declines in bond
prices. The rout was prompted by expectations that the Fed could
be nearing an interest-rate hike, perhaps as soon as its policy
meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday. Rising rates erode bond
prices. 
    "Last week should be a wake-up call to all bond investors,"
wrote AllianceBernstein L.P. investors Ashish Shah and
Scott DiMaggio in a blog post on Tuesday. "The days of making
easy money in a falling-rate environment are over."
    Investors pulled $65 billion from U.S.-based stock mutual
funds and ETFs in the first half of 2016, and poured $104
billion into bond funds, earlier ICI data showed.
    Investment-grade funds attracted $77 billion this year,
while emerging-market debt funds took in $5.5 billion, in both
cases their largest intake since 2012, according to Thomson
Reuters Lipper, a research service.
    "Eyes are on the Fed next week," said Todd Rosenbluth,
director of ETF & mutual-fund research at S&P Global Market
Intelligence. "If they were to raise rates, I think investors
would still be caught off guard as they have still been adding
to bond products."
    The following table shows estimated ICI flows, including
ETFs (all figures in millions of dollars):
                9/7   8/31    8/24    8/17  8/10/2016
 Equity      -2,665   -910  -6,630    -434      3,750
 -Domestic   -2,055   -127  -4,490  -2,317      3,728
 -World        -610   -783  -2,141   1,884         22
 Hybrid        -872     58     -71     234        -58
 Bond         6,840  2,460   6,406   8,909      9,782
 -Taxable     5,599  1,186   4,914   7,107      8,171
 -Municipal   1,240  1,274   1,492   1,802      1,610
 Commodity      458   -601    -252    -411         78
 Total        3,760  1,007    -548   8,298     13,552
 
 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Richard Chang)

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