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Markets Soar But the Retail Investor Is Not Back (Yet)

Daily Ticker

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) closed Tuesday at a 52-week high of 13,954, very close to its all-time high. It was the Dow's highest close since Monday, Oct. 5, 2007. The index is up 7% year-to-date.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 (GSPC) is also hovering near its record high. The index ended Tuesday's trading session at 1,508.

As the markets continue to soar, many are wondering if the retail investor is back.

The Wall Street Journal printed the following headline on its front page Wednesday: Individual Investors Help Drive Stock Surge. The article cites a report by mutual-fund tracker Lipper Inc. showing that $6.8 billion has flowed into stock mutual funds in just the first three weeks of this year.

But as The Daily Ticker’s Aaron Task and Lauren Lyster point out in the accompanying video, reports of the retail investors' return may be exaggerated. The Lipper figure is the biggest inflow into equity mutual funds since 2001 yet it is nothing compared to the net outflows from 2009-2012. Over that three-year period, a total of $287 billion left the market. In December 2012 alone, $55 billion made its way out of the market as fears over the so-called fiscal cliff scared off investors.

The retail investor may be starting to dip a toe in the investing water again but "they are not back in any major way that I can see," Aaron says. "I think we all just need to cool our jets a little bit while talking about the retail investor being back."

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