In what is the latest confirmation that nobody believes the "rally", the latest fund flow data from EPFR showed that US mutual fund and ETF flows turned sharply negative for stocks and high yield this past week (ending on May 4th). The outflow from stocks was $16.9BN following a $1.29bn inflow in the prior week. This was the biggest outflow from stocks since the Sep'15 capitulation on back of China devaluation.
In credit land it was likewise a rush into safety, with what BofA dubs a "massive preference for quality over junk in credit continues: largest IG bond inflows in 13 months contrasts with largest HY bond outflows in 3 months":
High yield flows turned to a $2.34bn outflow, driven mostly by just one ETF. High yield reported a $0.23bn inflow the week before. Inflows to high grade remained strong, however, falling marginally week over week to $2.76bn from $3.09bn. The decline was due to both an acceleration of outflows from short-term funds to $0.23bn from $0.14bn and a decline in flows outside of short-term funds to $2.99bn from $3.23bn. Both high grade funds ($1.75bn) and ETFs ($1.01bn) continue to report strong inflows (Figure 2).
Some other notable flow observations from Michael Hartnett:
Unwind of "long-$ plays" continues...longest streak of outflows from European equity funds in 8 years (Chart 2), longest Japanese equity outflow streak since Feb’12
Biggest outflows in Technology funds in 12 weeks ($0.9bn) as relative performance of tech slumps to 8-month low
Massive preference for quality over junk in credit continues: largest IG bond inflows in 13 months contrasts with largest HY bond outflows in 3 months Oil rally stoking rotation into EM debt & TIPS funds
Precious metals: $1.7bn inflows (largest in 9 weeks) (inflows in 16 of past 17 weeks)
And the punchline: YTD flows show risk-off asset allocation...$83bn out of equity funds and rotation into both fixed income ($56bn) & precious metals funds.
Those wondering just who is pushing the market higher if everyone is selling, aside from the traditional fallback answer of "corporate stock buybacks", sadly we don't have more to add.