Investors leave stock funds amid concerns over Spain-ICI

By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pulled the most money out of stock funds since the start of the year and continued to pile into bond funds as concerns rose over whether Spain would seek a bailout, data from the Investment Company Institute showed in the latest week.

An estimated $7.50 billion exited from stock funds in the week ended Sept. 26, the most since the first week of the year, according to data from ICI, a U.S. mutual fund trade organization.

The money removed from the funds also exceeded the previous week's outflows by nearly $2.4 billion.

Bond funds attracted $8.32 billion in new money, up from inflows of about $8 billion the previous week and the most since early April.

The benchmark S&P 500

fell 1.9 percent over the reporting period as violent anti-austerity protests broke out in Spain and concerns grew over whether the country would seek a European bailout package.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday that a request from Spain for European aid was not imminent, after a report that the country could apply for help as soon as this weekend.

Hybrid funds, which can invest in stocks and fixed income securities, had modest outflows of $377 million, the first losses for the funds in 16 weeks and a sharp slide from the previous week's inflows of about $1.64 billion.

The following table shows a breakdown of ICI flows for the past five weeks (all figures in millions of dollars):

8/29/12 9/5/12 9/12/2012 9/19/2012 9/26/2012 Total Equity -4,493 -3,453 -3,366 -5,115 -7,497 Domestic -3,690 -3,223 -2,809 -4,759 -5,082 World -803 -230 -557 -355 -2,415 Hybrid* 870 914 1,306 1,635 -377 Total Bond 6,380 4,903 8,106 7,996 8,322 Taxable 5,384 4,159 6,794 7,550 6,885 Municipal 997 743 1313 446 1,437 Total 2,758 2,363 6,047 4,516 448

*Hybrid funds can invest in stocks and/or fixed income securities.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione)