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U.S. fund investors slow bond binge, retreat from gold and stocks -ICI

By Trevor Hunnicutt
    NEW YORK, Sept 21 Investors retreated from
U.S.-based funds as stocks and bonds slid, pulling the most cash
in the latest week since the British vote to quit the European
Union, Investment Company Institute data showed on Wednesday.
    The mutual funds and exchange-traded funds shed $4.1 billion
overall in the week through Sept. 14, the trade group said, as
stocks and bonds alike stumbled and investors debated whether
central banks would continue to support markets.
    "Typically investors will shift focus from equity to fixed
income funds or vice versa, but last week they retrenched," said
Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual-fund research at S&P
Global Market Intelligence. "Meanwhile, commodities and muni
funds, which were extremely popular in 2016, have lost luster
even though they are relatively safe havens."
    Commodity funds recorded $898 million in withdrawals, the
most since December 2013. SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) drove
most of those outflows, separate Thomson Reuters Lipper data
showed, foreshadowing a potential U.S. interest rate hike this
year.
    Gold had been a popular bet as it has been on course for its
first positive year since 2012. But the relative appeal of
non-yielding metal often slips as yields on other assets, such
as bonds, rise.
    Over the last month, some U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers
have pointed to the possibility of raising interest rates soon.
The central bank will announce its latest policy decision at 2
p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). 
    Bond funds took in $1 billion as the strong appeal of
taxable bonds and tax-free government bonds among retail
investors continues, but at the slowest pace since the "Brexit"
vote. The funds had gathered $6.8 billion the week before,
according to the ICI data.
    Municipal bond fund inflows slowed to $800 million, the
lowest since December, after performance slumped over the past
month. Muni bond funds have not posted a week of withdrawals
since last September, ICI data shows, but BlackRock Inc 
said Monday it was lowering its short-term view of the sector
"due to richer valuations and higher Treasury yields."
 
    Domestic stock funds posted $3.4 billion in outflows. The
funds have been unpopular, especially among mutual fund
investors, for the better part of the year.
    But international stock funds managed to reel in $651
million after three straight weeks of outflows, ICI said.
    The following table shows estimated ICI flows, including
ETFs (all figures in millions of dollars):
               9/14     9/7   8/31    8/24  8/17/2016
 Equity      -2,737  -2,665   -910  -6,630       -434
 -Domestic   -3,389  -2,055   -127  -4,490     -2,317
 -World         651    -610   -783  -2,141      1,884
 Hybrid      -1,524    -872     58     -71        234
 Bond         1,059   6,841  2,460   6,406      8,909
 -Taxable       259   5,601  1,186   4,914      7,107
 -Municipal     800   1,240  1,274   1,492      1,802
 Commodity     -898     458   -601    -252       -411
 Total       -4,100   3,761  1,007    -548      8,298
 
 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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