May 1, 2020 - Economy

Investors preferred cash as stocks had the best month since 1987

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Fed's programs also helped spark a rally in equity prices, and the S&P 500 had its best month since 1987 in April.

The state of play: While retail traders have jumped into the stock market with both feet, institutional investors have preferred to play it safe and go to cash, data show.

By the numbers: Investors sold $7 billion worth of equity mutual funds for the week ending April 29, according to data from Lipper, and $1.5 billion worth of equity ETFs. An ETF that tracks the S&P 500 saw the largest outflows of the week, with $4.8 billion of redemptions.

  • That contrasted with $83 billion of inflows to money market funds, which are essentially cash, during the week, according to Lipper's data.

The big picture: April was a historic month for money market funds, data from the Investment Company Institute show.

  • Total assets parked in money market funds increased to $4.73 trillion as of April 30.
  • That's the highest amount ever and nearly $1 trillion more than the level of assets held in money markets at their pre-2020 peak during the global financial crisis.
  • It's an increase of more than $500 billion from levels recorded during the last week of March.

Go deeper...Exclusive: Americans have not been impressed by the Fed's coronavirus response

Go deeper