LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - Global investors ploughed $5 billion into bonds and withdrew money from gold and European equities in the past week, as fears of a trade war encourage investors to seek safety in fixed income, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) said on Friday.
The bank's data, which tracks fund flows from Wednesday to Wednesday, showed "notable" bonds flows, more than half of which went into investment grade credit, suggesting investors want some relative safety but are also after assets that yield more than safe-haven government bonds.
Investment grade funds had suffered from outflows in recent months, under pressure from the prospect of major central banks raising interest rates and reducing stimulus.
Worries about the impact of the deepening conflict over trade between the United States and China has not dented demand for U.S. equities, which enjoyed inflows of $2.3 billion.
Investors also added another $700 million into the technology sector, suggesting appetite for riskier assets remains robust even as more analysts warn about lofty stock market valuations following a multi-year bull run.
"Invincible U.S. tech stocks, which trade as though interest rates will never go up," BAML analysts said in their note. "Until investors fear the (Federal Reserve) there is little fear of FAANG stocks," they said, referring to the five big tech stocks.
European equities, on the other hand, saw their nineteenth straight week of outflows - at $700 million - while emerging markets - under pressure as a rallying dollar raises global borrowing costs - lost $1.9 billion, their ninth consecutive week of outflows, BAML said.
Gold was a standout loser, with investors pulling $1.2 billion, the biggest outflow in 18 months, as a rising dollar hurt demand for the precious metal. BAML said investors noted that gold had fallen to its lowest level versus the S&P 500 since 2002.
BAML warned of more difficulties ahead for markets.
"The inability of monetary & fiscal policy, global synchronized recovery, record corporate profits to create sustained wage growth means investors must discount more protectionism, redistribution and ultimately debt monetization via central banks in coming years," BAML's analysts wrote.
The bank said its "Bull & Bear Indicator" remained at 2.3, "hovering above extreme bearishness". (Reporting by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes; Editing by Toby Chopra)