Emerging Markets  

EM and Global funds buck cautious trend as inflows return

EM and Global funds buck cautious trend as inflows return

The run-up to the US election saw investors continue to exhibit caution towards equities, with a jump in emerging market fund inflows a rare sign of a move away from 'safer' asset classes.

October saw £595m of net retail fund sales, slightly down from September's £739m, with equity funds as a whole seeing outflows and absolute return the most popular sector once again, according to the Investment Association.

One shift, however, was evidence of renewed interest in emerging market equities - an asset class which has subsequently been hit hard in November after Donald Trump's US election victory strengthened the dollar and cast doubt on international trade links.

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October's £223m in net sales for EM equity funds far outstripped the year's previous high of £91m seen in April, as well as the £41m seen in September.

Global equity funds saw their strong sales of recent months continue, with £386m in net flows, but other equity sectors struggled once more.

UK strategies saw £887m of net outflows, while European equity funds saw £367m leave ahead of key events such as this month's Italian referendum.

Equity funds as a whole saw net outflows of £960m, higher than in August and September. The funds have now suffered £9.2bn of net outflows so far this year, including £5bn from UK All Companies funds.

Fixed income funds, by contrast, fared well as investors sought safety ahead of the US presidential vote - unaware Mr Trump's eventual victory would induce the bond sell-off witnessed throughout most of November.

The asset class saw a combined £359m of net inflows in October, with the only sectors to see net outflows being risker high yield and emerging market debt strategies.

But as seen throughout 2016, it was the Targeted Absolute Return sector that gained the lion's share of new business. It received £426m of net inflows, doubling September's figure.

Short term money market funds made another top-5 best selling category appearance with £320m, while sentiment of mixed-asset strategies remained strong with another £480m of net sales, taking the 2016 total to £1.3bn.

One sharp turn was seen in property funds. Outflows from the sector spiked in June and July, before a calmer picture over the summer brought £117m in net sales in September. October, however, saw a turn for the worse with £276m of net outflows, perhaps due to the fact that investors were once again able to access holdings in several of the summer's suspended funds.

Alistair Wainwright, a fund market specialist at the Investment Association, said: "Targeted absolute return was once again the best-selling sector, however the remaining sectors in the top five had a global focus.

"This is is a continuation of a trend we have seen all year as investors move away from country or strategy specific funds toward wider mandate funds."

He added: ""Tracker funds continue to be popular with a monthly net retail inflow of £233m. Passive sales echo active in terms of asset class but also in terms of equity region, with global tracker funds the only equity region to see positive flows."