Talking Point 

Investors flee US equities as caution grips market

Investors flee US equities as caution grips market

Investors fled equity markets in July, with funds focused on the US market seeing the sharpest reversal in sentiment, according to data from the Investment Association (IA).

The data showed investors pulled £256m from funds in the IA North America sector in July, compared with an average inflow into the sector over the past year of £145m.

Meanwhile UK equity funds, which have been out of favour for most of the year, saw outflows of £315m, which is below the average £379m in outflows for funds in the sector over the past year.

There was also a sharp swing in sentiment against European equities, with withdrawals at £156m compared with average inflows of £214m over the previous 12 months.

Jason Hollands, head of business development and communications at Tilney Group, said: "This pattern is further sign of increasing caution by investors against the backdrop of a very long-in-the tooth equity bull market and doubts about how much longer the good times can continue, escalating global trade tensions, the withdrawal of liquidity by central banks across the globe, turmoil in the emerging markets and the stalling Brexit process.

"Defensiveness was further evident in the asset choices made by investors with the three best-selling areas being mixed asset funds, fixed income and property, areas traditionally perceived as being less volatile that equity markets."

Asian, Japan, and Global equity funds all record positive inflows in July.

Overall net retail sales were £977m in July, compared with £4.1bn in the same month in 2018.

Mixed asset was the best-selling asset class, with £549m in net retail sales, followed by fixed income, which saw net retail sales of £279m.

Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell pointed out that investor sentiment towards UK property funds had become more positive, with net inflows of £162m compared with an average of £52m over the past year.

She said the value of commercial property assets remained below pre-Brexit valuations but the growth in flows showed investors were "dipping their toe back in the water".

Neil Goddin, who jointly runs the £85m Kames Global Equity fund, said he saw value in US equities by investing in companies further down the market cap scale. 

david.thorpe@ft.com

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