Cash is king as investors flee bond funds, active equities in March


Taxable bond funds suffered record outflows of $240 billion in March, posting the greatest outflows for any asset class during the month, according to Morningstar Inc. estimates.

At the same time, money market funds gathered a record $685 billion, posting a 19% organic growth rate for the quarter, which saw $694 billion flow into the liquid funds.

Bond funds’ March performance ended a streak of 14 consecutive months of inflows in which taxable bond funds collected $479 billion, Morningstar said.

Despite the turmoil in equity markets, long-term U.S. equity funds attracted $10.5 billion in net inflows during March, dominated by passively managed equity funds, which brought in a net of $41 billion. Actively managed equity funds saw outflows of $31 billion, almost the same amount as in January before the sell-off began, Morningstar said.

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In the aggregate, long-term mutual funds and exchange-traded funds posted record outflows of $326 billion in March, or 1.7% of the industry’s $19.7 trillion in assets at the end of February. Morningstar said it estimates net flow for mutual funds by computing the change in assets not explained by the performance of the fund, and calculates net flow for U.S. ETFs by dividing reported net assets by shares outstanding.

Among fund families, Fidelity led with $39 billion of outflows from its long-term funds in March (2.3% of its February total net assets), with nearly $23 billion coming out of taxable and muni bond funds.

For only the second time in 10 years, Vanguard’s long-term funds experienced net monthly outflows of $37 billion, mostly from its bond funds as well. American Funds, which concentrates on equities, saw $16 billion of outflows, or less than 1% of its February assets.

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Written by Investors Wallets

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