Risk Appetite Increasing: Investors Back in Stocks

Investors have started putting money back into equity funds in the US and Europe in a tentative sign of risk appetite increasing.

Trader at London Stock Exchange, England.
Trader at London Stock Exchange, England.

For most of the year, investors have piled into bonds and emerging markets while shunning equities.

Last week, $2.7 billion flowed into US equity funds and $840 million into European funds, according to EPFR, a data provider.

Separate data from the Investment Company Institute showed net flows of cash into equities in the past two weeks for the first time in six months.

“Investors are maybe reaching a tipping point,” said Brad Durham, EPFR’s managing director. “They are feeling perhaps that enough is enough with the bond flows and are starting to take on a bit more exposure to risk.”

Investors have been encouraged by the performance of western stock markets since the start of September.

They have also responded positively to signs that the US Federal Reserve will continue its purchase of government bonds , known as quantitative easing, in an attempt to force investors into riskier assets.

Money has flowed out of equity funds this year at a startling pace, with about $50bn leaving US funds and about $20 billion flowing from European ones, according to EPFR.

But since the start of September, $13.3 billion and $1.2 billion has flowed into US and European equity funds.

“Investors are getting a bit more confidence, and it is perhaps QE2-inspired. It is still early shoots of new growth,” Mr Durham said.

Money has continued to flow into emerging markets equities and bonds as well as government and high-yield debt markets, albeit at a slower pace last week as the market paused before an expected Fed announcement on Wednesday.

Some investors and analysts are skeptical that QE2 will be enough to push funds back into shares.