Individual Investors Pull Most Cash From US Stocks in Two Years

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(Bloomberg) — Individual investors who had been behind the stock-market rally this year pulled more money from US equities in October than they have in any month over the past two years.

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Retail traders sold nearly $16 billion in stocks last month, nearly twice what they unloaded in September, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. They dumped shares in nearly every sector, although they increased their exposure to real estate, which is the second worst performer in the S&P 500 Index this year with an 8.3% decline.

The selloff reveals fading enthusiasm from day traders, who had been chasing the upside in the market’s unexpected rally to start the year. While the S&P 500 is up 13% this year, it’s lost 5% since the start of August as investors come to grips with the Fed keeping interest rates higher-for-longer while geopolitical risks are mounting.

“Prior to the last couple of months, they would have been the first group that would come to mind to buy the dip, to take advantage of the pullback,” said Christopher Blake, executive director for S&P Global Issuer Solutions. “We see it as more of a turning point for some of the longer-term, macro trends behind retail investing.”

Institutions sold fewer shares in October than in September, but were still net sellers of equities. The monthly total was $19 billion of sales, beneath the 12-month average of $21 billion.

Meanwhile, hedge funds increased their exposures to US stocks. Blake noted that the group appeared to be buying into weakness in equities.

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