Yesterday, we highlighted a note from Deutsche Bank chief equity strategist Binky Chadha pointing out that hedge funds are still underweight stocks while inflows into equity ETFs – a common investment vehicle for retail investors – are surging at record pace.
In a note today, BofA equity strategist Savita Subramanian writes that she’s basically seeing the same thing among her client base: No one is really buying stocks right now.
From the note:
Last week (9/17-9/21), during which the S&P 500 was down 0.4%, BofAML clients were small net sellers of US stocks in the amount of $176mn. This was the third consecutive week of net sales, as clients have taken profits after QE3 and the summer rally. Hedge funds led last week’s outflows, and institutional clients were also net sellers. Private clients bought US stocks for the first time in twelve weeks (Chart 1), but this was almost entirely due to ETFs. Excluding ETFs, private clients were also net sellers of US stocks. By market cap, all three size segments saw net sales last week.
Echoing Chadha’s comments yesterday, Subramanian says BofAML private clients are flocking to stock market exposure via ETFs in droves. She writes that “private clients’ net buys of ETFs were the second-largest in the history of our data (since 2008).”
And the stocks the individual investors are buying most, according to Subramanian: tech stocks, which suggests perhaps a more aggressive belief in a cyclical market rally.