Flow records abound as 2021 draws to a close

If 2020 read like a gothic novel, the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic belonged to the suspense genre. At what point would central banks decide inflation is not transitory? Will the new variants of Covid-19 do more or less damage than earlier waves? What consequences will perceptions of US weakness have in Europe and Asia?

Mutual fund investors reacted to these uncertainties – and other potential problems – by throwing money at them. Going into the final days of the year, a slew of fund groups look set to post new full-year inflow records. These included Global Equity, Cryptocurrency, Financial and Real Estate Sector, Europe and Municipal Bond and all Balanced Funds. In response to the growing Sino-US tensions, those investors committed record setting sums to US Equity and Bond Funds and to China Equity and Bond Funds.

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The final week of May ended with US lawmakers voting to lift the country’s debt ceiling, markets assigning a one-in-three chance that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in mid-June and the price of oil testing 18-month lows. Against this backdrop, flows into all EPFR-tracked Equity Funds hit a 17-week high on the back of record-setting inflows to Technology Sector Funds and China Equity Funds absorbed nearly $5 billion.

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