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Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet tracker: Which nominees have been confirmed

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All of President Biden's Cabinet nominees have now been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: Biden now has known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

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WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

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Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

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Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.