Resumption of Fixed Income Fund Focus Expected for 2011

The stock fund gains seen in December are likely a temporary development, with investors expected to continue their focus on income and risk avoidance through 2011.

That was a key conclusion of a new report by Strategic Insight (SI), an Asset International company.

After attracting $1 trillion globally since the beginning of 2009, bond funds experienced a “turning point” in December, according to the SI analysis. While the improving economic environment benefited stock funds (they were up 6.4% in December), the rising interest rates that accompanied it led to total return losses for bond funds.

SI said the losses coupled with year-end rebalancing prompted bond fund redemptions of an estimated $23 billion over the month. December’s bond fund net outflows came on the heels of small net redemptions in the sector in November, when it net redeemed for the first time since December 2008.

Meanwhile, SI said stock funds continued showing strength in December with $19 billion in inflows,

Overall, investors worldwide have added nearly a net $1.7 trillion to their stock and bond funds since the beginning of 2009. Globally, stock and bond market price-recovery and net inflows combined to generate a $6-trillion increase in stock and bond fund assets over the past two years, with two-thirds of that increase coming within the U.S. fund industry.

According to the SI report, over the past year, the fund industry has benefited from slowly rebuilding investor confidence, rapid fund innovation, evolving leadership among small and large fund managers and the continuing balance between “safety and income” investments and those targeted for longer term capital accumulation.

Among the industry’s largest 100 managers of stock and bond funds, 96% gained assets over the past year. Within the same universe of companies, about 70% experienced positive long-term fund net flows in 2010, and only a few suffered net redemptions exceeding 10% of their assets.

For the full-year 2010, bond and stock funds, including ETFs, attracted net inflows of $350 billion. This included about $250 billion in net inflows to bond funds—the second-largest flow numbers to bond funds ever, after 2009’s record of $400 billion—and about $100 billion in net inflows to equity funds (virtually all to international stock funds), up from about $70 billion in 2009.