April 26, 2004 — The flow of money into stock mutual funds eased in March as investors increased their bond investments.

Domestic stock funds, including exchange-traded funds, took in $19.8 billion last month, versus $22.7 billion in February, according to Financial Research Corp. Bond funds attracted $4.2 billion in March, an increase of about $770 million over the previous month.

American Funds continued as the top-selling fund complex, netting $9.1 billion in new money. The company’s Growth Fund of America/A (AGTHX) led all funds with inflows estimated at $1.9 billion.

American was followed by Vanguard Group, the second-largest U.S. fund company, which took in $7.5 billion. Fidelity Investments, the biggest domestic fund company, placed third with inflows of $3.1 billion. The Boston-based complex was trailed by Barclays Global Investors, a major player in the ETF market, which netted $2.9 billion, and Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO), which saw inflows of $2.4 billion.

Among the 25 largest fund companies tracked by FRC, Janus Capital Group (JNS) and Putnam Investments, which have suffered investor defections in recent months because of the fund trading scandal, continued to leak money. Putnam’s fund assets declined by $2.3 billion in March. Janus’s dipped about $2 billion.

Four other American funds were among the five best selling funds in March. The American Balanced Fund/A (ABALX) took in $1.3 billion. It was followed by Income Fund of America/A (AMECX) ($997 million), Capital World Growth and Income Fund/A (CWGIX) ($960 million), and Capital Income Builder Fund/A (CAIBX) ($953 million.)