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Lipper: U.S.-based stock funds post $7.6 billion outflows

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[May 23, 2014]  By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors in U.S.-based funds pulled $7.6 billion out of stock funds in the week ended May 21 on weak U.S. economic data and disappointing corporate results, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

All of the outflows stemmed from stock exchange-traded funds, which posted $9.6 billion in withdrawals, while stock mutual funds attracted $2 billion in net inflows, which were the biggest in four weeks. The net outflows were the biggest since February.

ETFs are thought to reflect the behavior of institutional investors, while mutual funds are commonly purchased by retail investors. The SPDR Standard & Poor's 500 ETF Trust, which tracks the benchmark S&P 500 stock index, posted the biggest outflows, of $4.2 billion.

The outflows from stock ETFs could speak to a lack of confidence in the U.S. economy and worries about a correction in U.S. stocks, said Pat Keon, research analyst at Lipper. The S&P 500 edged 0.03 percent lower over the week after hitting record highs a week earlier.

Data over the week showed U.S. industrial output fell at its fastest rate in more than 1-1/2 years in April, while a monthly gauge of U.S. consumer sentiment fell in May.

The iShares: Russell 2000 Index Fund, which tracks the small-capitalization Russell 2000 index, posted the second-biggest outflows of $3.6 billion. The outflows came as the index entered correction territory over the week on continued weakness in small-cap stocks.

Emerging market stock funds attracted $1.5 billion in inflows, their highest inflows in six weeks and their ninth straight week of inflows. Analysts have said the Federal Reserve's pullback in its monthly bond-buying has proceeded smoothly, which has reassured emerging markets investors.

Taxable bond funds attracted $3.4 billion in new cash, marking their 11th straight week of net inflows. Riskier high-yield bond funds attracted $744 million, marking their biggest inflows since February.

Funds that mainly hold U.S. Treasuries posted about $380 million in outflows, the biggest since March.

The inflows into bond funds came after yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 2.47 percent on May 15, the lowest level since October 30, on geopolitical tensions surrounding Ukraine and underwhelming U.S. and European economic data. Bond yields move inversely to their prices.

The latest week showed investors putting cash to work. Low-risk money market funds, which are viewed as a safe place to store cash, posted $10.1 billion in outflows, marking their biggest outflows in five weeks.

The weekly Lipper fund flow data is compiled from reports issued by U.S.-domiciled mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Richard Chang)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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