Flows into emerging-market equity and the riskier bond fund groups have been losing momentum in early December, according to EPFR Global of Boston.
At the same time, high-yield bond funds posted outflows for only the second time since late June, as flows into emerging-market equity funds stood at a level that represented only about 33 percent of their weekly average year-to-date.
Before the rise in the U.S. dollar, uncertainty and market volatility were heightening an "already keen investor appetite for exposure to commodities and to the more conservative bond fund groups," says EPFR Global, with commodity sector, U.S. and global bond funds all taking in over $1 billion in new money for the week.
Overall, bond funds collectively took in about $3 billion for the week ending December 2, while their equity counterparts, helped by large inflows into some Europe equity funds, absorbed a net $3.1 billion.
"Investors remain anxious to deploy money before the books close on 2009," explains EPFR Global analyst Cameron Brandt.
Flows into bond funds through the first 11 months of the year stand at about $140 billion. Equity funds have had positive flows of roughly $15 billion in the same period.
Asia ex-Japan equity funds, however, recorded outflows of $306 million for the week despite strong macroeconomic data from their two BRIC markets, China and India. For this region, appreciating currencies raise questions about export competitiveness and increase the chances that governments will turn to capital controls.
The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) theme continues to play well, with dedicated BRIC equity funds posting their 12th consecutive week of inflows and China, Russia and Brazil equity funds all absorbing between $110 million and $123 million for the week.
Japan equity funds continue to suffer from perceptions that the country's big companies are losing their pricing power because of a combination of domestic deflation, confused policymaking, a strong currency and fierce competition from regional rivals. Investors removed another $271 million from this fund group as its outflow streak hit 11 straight weeks.
Elsewhere, the prospect of the Christmas shopping and the northern hemisphere heating seasons helped energy, utility and consumer goods funds attract $252 million, $121 million and $33 million respectively for the week. Telecom funds had their best week since the second quarter of 2007 against a backdrop of good earnings, mergers and regulatory advances in Europe.
Also, the recent and more-measured debate over health-care reform in the U.S. Senate helped health care/biotech funds record their first three-week inflow streak since September 2008.