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Investors Had a Bad Feeling About U.S. Stock ETFs in January

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

While the U.S. equities market experienced one of their best January start to a new year in decades, investors still pulled billions from U.S. stock-related ETFs.

Investors redeemed $25 billion from U.S. stock ETFs in January, reflecting increased caution after Decembers fallout, even as U.S. markets strengthened on stronger-than-expected earnings and signs the Federal Reserve will ease up on interest rate hikes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

On the other hand, investors are shifting over to fixed-income ETFs and ditching U.S. stocks for emerging market exposure and higher quality companies with stable growth outlooks.

“The overall view in the market is still quite bearish,” Daniel Suzuki, portfolio strategist for Richard Bernstein Advisors, told the WSJ.

Specifically, among the most hated ETF plays of January, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) experienced $12 billion in net outflows, iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) saw $7 billion in net outflows, iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) bled $2.6 billion and iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) lost $2.4 billion, according to XTF data.

On the other hand, looking at the most popular ETF picks of January, the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) attracted $4.2 billion in net inflows, Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCSH) brought in $3 billion in inflows, Vanguard Interm-Term Corp Bd ETF (VCIT) added $2.6 billion and iShares Edge MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (Cboe:QUAL) saw $1.8 billion in inflows.

Suzuki argued that Richard Berstein shifted its portfolio last month out of U.S. sector ETFs and into quality and stable growth strategies due to the decelerating U.S. profit cycle, compared to last year when the tax overhaul helped prop up corporate earnings.

Matthew Bartolini, head of SPDR Americas Research for ETF issuer State Street Global Advisors, does not find the trend uprising as traders and analysts moderate their outlook for market gains this year.

“Investors are rebalancing risk within portfolios, looking for something to mitigate the risk of U.S. equities,” Bartolini told the WSJ.

“Part of this is typical cyclical rebalancing,” he added. “But December was the worst December since 1931, and the technical indicators are still somewhat bearish.”

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