Mar 25, 2021 - Economy

Inflows to stocks last week nearly doubled pre-pandemic record

Weekly flows to equity funds
Data: Investment Company Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

Money flows into equity funds have gone on a record-setting streak in recent weeks, as investors' mindsets have moved from fearing a downturn in the market to fear of missing out on big returns.

What happened: Record sums of cash have flown into equity funds over the last month and a half with the No. 1 and No. 2 largest inflows to stock funds ever both occurring since the start of February.

By the numbers: For the week ending March 17, a net $53.7 billion flowed into equity funds with $43.0 billion going into U.S. equity funds, according to data from the Investment Company Institute.

  • For the week ending Feb. 10, equity funds saw $31.7 billion of net inflows.
  • Prior to 2021, the record high was $27.2 billion, set in June 2017.

To put that into perspective: ICI's data show net fund flows to equities were negative in 22 of the last 23 months, meaning investors pulled money out of stocks.

  • During the one month in which equity funds saw net inflows, they totaled $43.3 billion — $10 billion less than last week's total.

Yes, but: Bullish investors have so far not been rewarded. The benchmark S&P 500 has been flat since Feb. 10 and is down 1.6% since March 17.

  • The Russell 2000 has fallen 4% since Feb. 10 and is off 6.6% since March 17.
  • The Nasdaq has lost 5.3% since Feb. 10 and 1.1% since March 17.
  • The Dow is up since Feb. 10, gaining 3.1%, but is 1.9% lower since March 17.

Of note: Commodity funds have seen six straight weeks of net outflows, ICI data show, even as the benchmark S&P GSCI (formerly the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index) has outperformed all the major U.S. stock indexes except the Dow during that time.

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