Exchange-traded fund flows: Investors are turning to big-cap stocks, and swapping out of gold. Now that we are at new highs, I spent the morning combing through ETF inflows (creations) and outflows (redemptions) year to date, and ran my findings by Dave Nadig at IndexUniverse.
Here's what I see: Classic risk-on so far in 2013 ... getting in the market, and staying in the market.
1) The biggest success has been WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ), which has gone from less than $1 billion in assets last year to $3.8 billion in the first two months of the year. Why? Shinzo Abe's election in Japan created a frenzy of speculation that he would re-flate Japan's economy — and stock market. The DXJ invests in Japanese stocks, but hedges out currency risk, especially important when you are buying the fund using dollars converting into depreciating yen. Result: instant success.
2) Big-cap U.S. stock indexes: Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI), iShares Core S&P 500 (IVV), and Vanguard S&P 500 (VOO), all variations on buying the S&P 500, and all indications that investors are taking some money off the sidelines and into core big-cap stocks. Also some inflows into small caps: iShares Russell 2000 (IVM).
3) Emerging market funds like iShares Emerging Market (EEM) and Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO), but not huge flows into other countries: not Europe, or Latin America.
4) Real estate: Vanguard REIT (VNQ).
1) SPDR Gold (GLD) and other gold ETFs.
2) Some signs of a top in bonds. Modest outflows from iShares Investment Grade Corporate Bonds (LQD), iShares Tips (TIP), and iShares three-to-seven Year Treasury (IEI).
Bottom line: This is not the "Great Rotation" out of stocks and into bonds, but it is a sign that investors are favoring risk over defense, amid growth in emerging markets and the U.S.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani