Investors pulled money out of all the major EPFR-tracked fund groups during the final week of June as they closed the books on a quarter that saw inflation in Europe hit record highs, energy prices soar, the US Federal Reserve deliver their biggest rate hike at a single meeting since 1994 and the benchmark S&P Index endure its worst opening half of any year since 1970.
Against a backdrop of market volatility, slowing economic growth in Europe and North America, gasoline prices and mortgage rates in the US firmly above $5 a gallon and 5%, respectively, continued fighting in Ukraine and ongoing Covid-related disruptions to China-based supply chains, investors pulled over $45 billion from EPFR-tracked Equity, Bond, Alternative and Balanced Funds during the third week of June.
The Northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, which occurs on June 21, marks the day when it is light for the longest period. In the week preceding that date, however, investors could be excused for thinking the solstice marks the period of maximum darkness. The US Federal Reserve’s first 75-basis points rate hike since 1994, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine moving into its 17th week, Chinese authorities scrambling to contain a ‘ferocious’ outbreak of Covid in Beijing and an emergency meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) kept global markets firmly on the back foot during the week ending June 15.
With the European Central Bank meeting the day after the latest reporting period and US Federal Reserve policymakers convening five days later, flows to EPFR-tracked fund groups were predictably subdued in early June. Investors opted for liquidity, with flows into Money Market Funds hitting a nine-week high, while steering clear of most fund groups tied to European and emerging markets assets.
Although the flow of unsettling developments continued in late May – will Covid-19 pass the baton to Monkeypox? – investors recovered some of their appetite for exposure to US assets. The week ending May 26 saw EPFR-tracked Equity Funds snap their longest redemption streak since 3Q19 thanks to the biggest flows into US Equity Funds since the second week of March while US Bond Funds posted only their second inflow during the past eight weeks.
EPFR-tracked Equity Funds extended their longest run of outflows since 3Q19 during the week ending May 18 as slowing global growth, tighter monetary policy in the US, war in Ukraine and widespread lockdowns in China kept investors on the defensive. Bond, Money Market, Balanced and Alternative Funds also recorded outflows going into the second half of May.
Asset markets endured further pain during the second week of May as investors tried – and largely failed — to square tighter monetary policy in the US and other markets with the latest global GDP forecasts. The World Bank, which came in 2022 forecasting global GDP growth of 4.1% for the year, dropped that estimate to 3.2% in April and is expected to lower it again after data showed the US economy contacting by 1.4% in the first quarter.
The first week of May ended with the US Federal Reserve raising its key interest rate by 50 basis points. Investors, who expected a hike of that magnitude but feared the Fed might opt for a 0.75% increase, spent most of the week taking defensive positions. They cut their exposure to emerging markets and high yield debt, technology stocks, alternative assets and real estate. Europe Equity and Bond Funds also experienced significant redemptions as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its 12th week.
As key US indexes closed their books on a month that saw the Nasdaq record its biggest drop since October 2008, investors seeking to escape market volatility turned to cash and to Chinese equity. Flows into EPFR-tracked Money Market Funds hit a 27-week high during the fourth week of April while China Equity Funds recorded their 15th inflow in the 17-weeks year-to-date and their biggest since late January.
With the opening weeks of the 1Q22 corporate earnings season raising more questions than it answers, US mortgage rates continuing to climb, global growth forecasts being trimmed and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in its third month, investors found a lot to like about the sidelines during the third week of April. Outflows from ERFR-tracked Equity Funds hit a year-to-date high for the second straight week while Bond Funds experienced net redemptions for the 14th time in the past 15 weeks.