NEW YORK – Fund investors worldwide placed $7.14 billion in stock funds in the latest week as the Dow Jones industrial average hit record highs and global markets rallied, data from EPFR Global showed on Friday.
Inflows into stock funds in the week ended March 6 trounced the prior week's cash gains of $1.2 billion. Appetite for U.S. stocks largely accounted for the inflows, as $4.95 billion flowed into funds that hold the stocks, reversing the prior week's redemptions of $411 million.
The inflows came on the heels of the Dow's record closing high of 14,253.77 points on March 5, which it surpassed a day later. Loose policies of monetary easing from the U.S. Federal Reserve and signs of growth in the U.S. economy contributed to the rise.
The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS>, meanwhile, rose 1.6 percent over the weekly reporting period.
Investors worldwide have poured over $21 billion into funds that U.S. stocks so far this year, showing a change in sentiment after redeeming heavily from the funds in 2012 and favoring stable returns in bonds.
The appetite, or lack thereof, for equities serves as an important barometer of investor confidence and how people feel about the state of economic growth.
The flows into U.S. stocks overshadowed demand for emerging market stocks, as just $102 million flowed into emerging market stock funds. That amount, albeit small, is an improvement from outflows of $1.07 billion the prior week.
Investors withdrew $290 million from European stock funds, despite expectations that the European Central Bank would maintain its loose monetary policy at a meeting.
Concerns remained, however, that political instability in Italy would stall the country's economic reforms and reignite the euro zone debt crisis.
Investors also sought profits in high-yield "junk" bond funds, to which they gave $1.9 billion, the most since mid-January. Many view high-yield bonds as a risk asset, and yet a safer alternative to stocks.
Bond funds overall reaped inflows of $4.5 billion in the latest week, slightly below cash gains of $4.68 billion the previous week. Funds that hold U.S. bonds took in $3.86 billion of the new money.
Funds that hold emerging market bonds attracted just $409 million in new money, a weak turnout after attracting inflows of more than $1 billion in the first six weeks of the year.
The move out of European stocks also applied to the region's bond funds, which suffered redemptions of $974 million over the week.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by David Gregorio)