Investors pile into UK equity funds in May

Investors pile into UK equity funds in May

UK equity funds attracted £532m of net investment in May, following years of outflows. 

Data from the Investment Association, released on July 4, showed the UK was the most popular region with equity investors in the month.

The data can be seen in the context of £11bn having been withdrawn from UK funds since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

Of the £532m that went into UK equity funds, £316m went to UK equity income mandates, with the remainder going into the All Companies sector.

That sector returned 15 per cent over the past six months, though the gain over the past year to July 4 was less than one per cent, according to data from FE Analytics. 

The IA UK Equity Income sector returned 12 per cent over the past six months but lost money over the past year. 

The biggest selling equity market sector was IA Global, which had inflows of £562m. Conversely, investors withdrew £527m from European equities, the worst performing equity sector in the month.

Jason Hollands, managing director for communications at wealth manager Tilney, said: "Investor caution towards European equities is unsurprising given weak growth in the Eurozone, looming trade tensions with the US and the spat between European institutions and the Italian government over its fiscal programme. 

"With a weak banking sector, high exposure to export markets and already very low interest rates, the Eurozone looks poorly equipped to deal with the next economic downturn whenever it might come."

Mr Hollands said the shift in favour towards UK equity funds was somewhat surprising given the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit and the significant outflows seen from the embittered Woodford Equity Income fund during May, which led to its suspension in early June.

He said: "Time will tell whether the surge in UK equity fund net sales is partially down to a blip in the timing of reported sales and purchases, or if investors have finally begun to recognise the value in the UK equity market which is trading at a discount to other developed markets."

Meanwhile investors placed £771m into the various bond fund sectors, with the best selling funds in that sector being IA Strategic Bond, which had inflows of £386m. 

In contrast investors fled the Targeted Absolute Return sector during the month, withdrawing just over £500m. 

The sector has lost 4 per cent this year to date, and returned 4 per cent over the past three years. 

Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell, said: "There was no turnaround for Absolute Return funds, which continued to haemorrhage assets, with another £500m pulled from the funds in May.

"It means that over the past year more than £5bn has been pulled from the funds, after lacklustre performance from some of the giants in the sector hit investor confidence."

But James Burns, who jointly runs the managed portfolio service at Smith and Williamson, has exposure to absolute return funds, and said it is likely that in the event of a severe market downturn he would buy more.