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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

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

In photos: Dozens dead as Israel and Hamas intensify aerial bombardments

People gather at the site of a collapsed building in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on May 11. Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images

At least 35 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed as fighting between Israel's military and Hamas entered a third day, per Reuters.

The big picture: The worst aerial exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas since 2014 come after escalating violence in Jerusalem that injured hundreds of Palestinians and several Israeli police officers during protests over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

Scoop: Stephanie Murphy announcing challenge to Marco Rubio

Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy is planning to announce a campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in early June, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Murphy is a proven fundraiser. Jumping in now would give her an early start to build her case for the Democratic nomination and potentially force Rubio and allied GOP groups to spend heavily to retain a seat in a state that’s trending Republican.