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U.S. fund investors pull most cash in 3 months from domestic stocks -ICI

NEW YORK, Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. fund investors snatched the most cash in three months from domestic stocks, Investment Company Institute (ICI) data showed on Wednesday, pointing to ongoing reticence and profit-taking in the face of a strong start to the new year.

The trade group said a net $13.6 billion poured out of stock funds during the week ended Jan. 30, mostly driven by exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are heavily used by institutional investors.

During the week, the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled its three-year-drive to tighten monetary policy may be at an end, boosting riskier assets. The central bank discarded its promises of "further gradual increases" in interest rates, and said it would be "patient" before making any further moves.

The S&P 500 added to its gains for the year, and the stock index has returned more than 9 percent in 2019.

Domestic equity funds posted $14 billion in withdrawals, the most pulled since October and offset only marginally by around $400 million of demand for stock funds focused abroad.

Overall, stock mutual funds typically used by retail investors took in $183 million, while U.S.-based equity ETFs posted $13.8 billion of withdrawals, ICI said.

Investors showed further signs of hesitation by snapping up bonds and commodity funds, such as those that invest in gold. Debt funds attracted $7.8 billion during the week and commodity funds pulled in $767 million, according to the ICI.

The following table shows estimated ICI flows for mutual funds and ETFs (all figures in millions of dollars): 1/30 1/23 1/16 1/9/ 1/2/2019 Equity -13,645 1,485 -2,783 11,326 -11,294 Domestic -14,039 -571 -4,931 6,630 -6,260 World 394 2,056 2,148 4,696 -5,033 Hybrid -530 355 16 11 -5,421 Bond 7,763 6,798 9,327 6,300 -14,176 Taxable 5,816 5,367 7,633 4,350 -14,073 Municipal 1,947 1,431 1,694 1,950 -103 Commodity 767 584 -213 711 478 Total -5,646 9,222 6,347 18,348 -30,413 (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt Editing by Susan Thomas)