Mutual funds attracted $47.5 billion in net inflows in March, mostly into bond funds, a trend that has endured for 27 straight months, according to a Morningstar analysis.
Taxable bond funds brought in $31.7 billion in March, while municipal bond funds added another $3.9 billion. During the period, U.S. equity funds raised just $1.3 billion, although this was an improvement over February, which was a negative month for U.S. equity funds. International funds brought in $6.6 billion in March.
"It's due to a couple of factors: low-yielding alternatives, such as CDs and money market funds, and 2008's volatility is still prominent in investors' minds," said Sonya Morris, editorial director at Morningstar. "They've rejiggered their portfolios to lower-volatility asset classes."
Money market funds lost $148.2 billion in March, mostly to bond funds. Morris said investment in money market funds soared in 2008, when the government said it would guarantee them.
Meanwhile, investors poured $19.7 billion into exchange-traded funds and 18 new ETFs entered the market, a busier-than-usual month for the investment vehicle. In what seems like a reversal of mutual fund trends, U.S. stock ETFs pulled in the lion's share of assets, $10.9 billion, distantly followed by taxable bond ETFs at $4.4 billion.