Equity inflows spike as investors pile in post-dip

Flows into equities surged past a year-high in the week to Wednesday, as markets bounced back and investors piled into stocks after the violent market sell-off in mid-October.

Some $20.4 billion flowed into equities in the week to October 29, after four straight weeks of outflows, data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch showed. This made it the best week for equities in 53 weeks, according to the U.S. bank.

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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. equities in particular were snapped up by investors, with inflows reaching a 58-week high of $14.5 billion. Europe saw its first positive flows in nine weeks, with gains of $2.1 billion.

But even as stocks in Europe and the U.S. bounced on Friday, recovering from the selloff earlier in the month, analysts are braced for further volatility.

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"For some time now, we have been concerned that conditions have been building for a spike in volatility and a re-appraisal of the growth prospects inherent in some equity valuations," Andy Cawker, head of specialist equities at Insight Investment, said in a research note on Friday.

"Growth fears may be overdone, but deflation is a real threat to indebted economies. If that menace takes hold in the mind of the market, there will be many more wobbly Wednesdays," he added.

Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments, said the global equity bull market was aging, but not over yet. He noted that in the five years to October 28, 2014, the Russell 3000 Index returned nearly 150 percent and broader global developed markets returned 104.8 percent

"The equity bull market is getting long in the tooth. At 66 months, it is the third-oldest bull market in the past 50 years," Sturkenboom said.

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"Our models and process tell us it's not about to end just yet, but we expect volatility to increase as we approach the first Fed tightening," he said.

Investors bid for defensive stocks during the week to Wednesday, pouring money into healthcare, which took 1.3 percent of all equity flows. Materials, followed by financials and technology, saw the biggest redemptions.

In fixed income, investment grade flows remained steady, with high yield bond funds seeing two straight weeks of inflows, after seven weeks of outflows.