What's Driving Investors Out of Stocks?

Despite a rising stock market and nearly record low interest rates, investors continue to pull money out of stocks and into bonds. What exactly is the catalyst behind this move?

This article was originally published by Zacks.com.

Despite a rising stock market and nearly record low interest rates, investors continue to pull money out of stocks and into bonds.

According to estimates from the Investment Company Institute, investors pulled a net -$5.158 billion out of equity mutual funds last week while plowing +$7.997 billion into bonds funds:

But this is no recent phenomenon. There has been a steady flow out of equity funds since May of 2011:

But what is the catalyst behind this move?

Conventional wisdom would say that retail investors got burnt in 2008 and are simply swearing off stocks. But that doesn't explain the massive inflows into equity funds in mid-2009, early 2010 and early 2011.

Could it be that Baby Boomers are simply shifting out of "risky" stocks and into the "safety" of bonds as they near retirement? Or is there something else going on here? Is the "cult of equity" dying as PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross recently suggested?

Either way, it's clear that the average investor has largely missed out on this year's stock market rally.

Todd Bunton is the Growth & Income Stock Strategist for Zacks Investment Research and Editor of the Income Plus Investor service.

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