April 11, 2018 / 4:51 PM / 11 days ago

U.S. fund investors cut stocks for 3rd straight week -ICI

    By Trevor Hunnicutt
    NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. fund investors pulled
back from stocks for a third consecutive week, buying bonds as
the U.S.-China trade conflict roiled markets, Investment Company
Institute (ICI) data showed on Wednesday.
    Equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
recorded $4.5 billion in withdrawals during the week ended April
4, according to the trade group. Debt funds took in $3 billion.
    During the week, investors puzzled over how the U.S.-China
trade conflict would affect markets.
    U.S. stocks gained on Tuesday following a promise by Chinese
President Xi Jinping to open the country's economy further, but
struggled to extend those gains the next day as U.S. President
Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria
over a suspected poison gas attack.
    "It's hard to tell what to watch because it seems like it's
changing so regularly. First it's trade, then it's geopolitics,
and it used to be tax cuts," said Dave Lafferty, chief market
strategist at Natixis Investment Managers LP, referring to the
U.S. tax cut enacted in late 2017.
    "It doesn't seem like the markets can settle on a narrative
at this point."
    The S&P 500 has recorded 29 days of declines in 68
full trading sessions in 2018, with its return falling just
under 1 percent in price terms for the year.
    Day-to-day swings in price and sentiment have sent investors
to the refuge of international stocks. Funds focused on domestic
companies posted a third straight week of withdrawals, with $6
billion cashed out, ICI said.
    Funds invested in shares outside the United States attracted
$1.5 billion, adding a 70th straight week to their successful
fundraising streak.
    The following table shows estimated ICI flows for mutual
funds and ETFs (all figures in million of dollars):
               4/4     3/28     3/21     3/14    3/7/2018
 Equity        -4,501  -11,701  -13,766  25,210  -6,440
    Domestic   -6,018  -12,377  -17,107  19,062  -10,973
    World      1,517   676      3,341    6,148   4,533
 Hybrid        -930    -1,314   151      -611    -500
 Bond          2,953   263      5,315    8,444   1,524
    Taxable    3,063   137      4,546    7,741   1,310
    Municipal  -110    126      769      703     214
 Commodity     547     -332     938      30      210
 Total         -1,931  -13,084  -7,363   33,072  -5,207
 
 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Richard Chang)
  
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