U.S. fund investors hesitant on domestic stocks: ICI

NEW YORK (Reuters) – International stocks and taxable bonds raked in cash for the 40th week in a row as investors tiptoed away from the domestic equity market, Investment Company Institute (ICI) data for U.S.-based funds showed on Wednesday.

Taxable bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds attracted $5.9 billion, and world stock funds pulled in another $2.7 billion, the trade group said.

The data reflects activity in the week ended Sept 6, after North Korea’s largest ever nuclear bomb test and U.S. investors were shaken by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Stocks have gained in the days since as those concerns ebbed.

“With the uncertainty tied to the impact of hurricanes and geopolitical risks tied to North Korea, investors have continued to favor the relative stability of investment-grade bond funds,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA.

The demand for bonds comes even as prominent investors warned about the safety of debt markets. Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman on Tuesday said it looks like bonds are in a bubble. Closely watched investor Jeffrey Gundlach, also on Tuesday, said he was not optimistic about how bonds will fair in the next recession.

Domestic stock flows dipped during the most recent week, with withdrawals nearing $3 billion, compared to $3.7 billion in inflows the week before.

An MSCI Inc gauge of U.S. stocks trails the 21.3 percent return of 46 other top markets by more than 8 percentage points this year.

“The relative strength of international equities has likely contributed to continued demand,” said Rosenbluth.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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