Individual investors are slowly warming up to stocks

Individual investors continue to warm up to stocks, albeit at an agonizingly slow pace.

Small investors put a net $1.3 billion into U.S. equity mutual funds last week, according to the Investment Company Institute, a fund trade group. That marks the ninth week in 11 this year of net inflows.

Investors have poured a net $22.5 billion into U.S. equity funds so far this year, according to ICI data. That’s considerably better than the net $9 billion they had yanked at the same point last year.

Still, Americans remain extremely cautious about the stock market.

Inflows have slowed notably from their furious pace in January, when they hit nearly $20 billion. That’s not unusual – inflows are typically heavy in January as people collect year-end bonuses – but it’s a pittance compared with the huge sums they have sitting in low-yielding money-market funds.

Investors have shown much more interest in international equities. They’ve poured nearly $45 billion into foreign stock funds so far this year, compared with $7.4 billion at the same point last year.


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