U.S. stock funds post largest withdrawals in five weeks: Lipper

U.S. stock funds post largest withdrawals in five weeks: LipperU.S. stock funds post largest withdrawals in five weeks: Lipper

By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. fund investors reduced their exposure to stocks and bought bonds during the latest week, Lipper data showed on Thursday, as saber-rattling between the United States and North Korea appeared to shake investor sentiment.

Stock funds in the United States posted $2.8 billion in withdrawals during the seven days through Aug. 9, marking the largest outflows in five weeks.

Nearly $31 billion moved into relatively low-risk money market funds, the strongest figure since 2013. About $4 billion moved into taxable and municipal bonds, according to the research service.

Investors took that defensive crouch as the United States and North Korea exchanged threats during the week. On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said aggression from Pyongyang would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea's state media reported the country had plans to fire missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory Guam.

“It's people taking money out of play,” said Pat Keon, senior research analyst for Thomson Reuters' Lipper unit.

“This is driven more by geopolitical news than financial or economic news,” overshadowing positive signs from strong second-quarter corporate earnings, recent data on jobs and wage growth and a supportive Federal Reserve. The is down more than 1.3 percent over the last week.

Within equities, investors favored exposure abroad, putting $1.5 billion in non-domestic funds while pulling $4.3 billion from stocks at home.

In bonds, investors preferred investment-grade corporate bond funds over safe-haven Treasuries that offer lower returns. Treasury fund outflows of $69 million for the week compare to $2.5 billion in inflows for the investment-grade funds.

Precious metals funds continued to report weak sales despite the risk-off sentiment and four straight weeks of positive performance. Withdrawals for the category were $225 million for the week, the data showed.

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