No End in Sight to Investors Fleeing Stocks
Comment of the Day

October 15 2012

Commentary by David Fuller

No End in Sight to Investors Fleeing Stocks

My thanks to a subscriber for this article from The Wall Street Journal (subscription registration required, PDF also provided). Here is the opening:
Not only have investors been pulling cash out of stock funds all year, but the pace of the outflows has picked up considerably.

As we noted earlier today, investors pulled $10.6 billion out of stock funds in the week ended Oct. 3, according to the Investment Company Institute. That was the biggest weekly outflow of the year and the largest since August 2011, when spooked investors pulled cash from stock funds in droves immediately after S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating.

So what's behind the latest outflow?

David Fuller's view The Subscriber who forwarded this article also added: "This is amazing, maybe unprecedented, given the rally."

Most people reading this article will have little difficulty in listing lots of reasons why small investors are leaving the US stock market, including the big crashes in 2000 & 2008, flash crashes, a weak economy, press focus on dire economic developments, and retiring baby boomers.

So what does it mean?

Although I do not have the data to hand, historically, a persistent surge of money flowing into US mutual funds has coincided with market tops of some importance. Similarly, heavy public selling of mutual funds has occurred at market bottoms.

Today, there are plenty of reasons for people to be uncertain, given a close US Presidential Election fought over very different policies, and the much publicised 'Fiscal Cliff'. Overall, I still regard spikes in either the buying or selling of mutual funds as a contrary indicator.

In markets, there is always something to be concerned about but Wall Street is still in an overall upward trend and I have not been looking for more than a somewhat larger and longer reaction following earlier strong gains. We may have even seen the major portion of this pullback. Europe is holding most of its gains and some Fullermoney favourites have seen little or no sell-off in recent weeks.

This could also be true of precious metals where short-term indicators have moved from overbought to somewhat oversold and there has been some climactic selling activity today.

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