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Mutual funds attract record $81 billion in January

February 27, 2013: 3:43 PM ET

After taking money off the table toward the end of 2012, individual investors came back with a vengeance in January, adding a record $80.6 billion to their mutual fund holdings, according to the Investment Company Institute.

Investors added nearly $38 billion to stock funds during the month, with a little more than half of that flowing into international stocks.

Nearly $33 billion, or 41% of the total monthly inflow, went into bond funds.

That doesn't come as much of a surprise. Investors have shown a strong attraction for bond funds since the financial crisis. While the bet has paid off so far, experts are warning that ongoing investment in bond funds could leave investors with heavy losses when interest rates begin to rise.

Hybrid funds, which invest in both stocks and bonds and have been a favorite among investors since the beginning of 2012, raked in a record $9.8 billion in January.

Related: The myth of the Great Rotation

While February is on track to be a positive month for mutual fund flows, it will likely be far from a record. During the first two weeks of February, mutual funds have lured in just under $24 billion, according to ICI. Investors have continued to show an appetite for international stock funds, bond funds and hybrid funds this month, but enthusiasm for U.S. stocks has begun to dampen.

The inflows have been weakening as the market rally has lost some of its mojo. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average rallied more than 5% in January, but are up just over 1% in February.

Investor fear is also on the rise, with worries about Europe picking up again. After being steeped in greed for most of the beginning of the year, CNNMoney's Fear & Greed Index has fallen sharply throughout the month. Earlier this week, it tumbled into neutral before bouncing back into greed.

  • Investor fear on the rise

    Political gridlock in Italy is unhinging investors.

    Investors worry the results of Italy's election could wind up undermining the progress that Italy has made in overhauling its troubled economy.

    "It was the worst possible outcome, feared by market participants and European policy-makers alike," said Daiwa Capital Markets European economist Tobias Blattner.

    U.S. stocks spiraled downward in a late-day frenzied sell-off Monday. European markets followed their cue and sold off sharply early Tuesday.

    CNNMoney's Fear MORE

    - Feb 26, 2013 10:15 AM ET
  • Investors getting more greedy

    A spate of good earnings reports seems to be doing the trick...for now.

    CNNMoney's Fear & Greed index has only been in greed mode twice since April 5, when worries about Europe finally topped out (although that was short lived).

    Any reading above 55 signals investors growing more optimistic. The index got there earlier this month. On July 5, it hit 58. Investors were feeling pretty good after celebrating America's independence and MORE

    - Jul 19, 2012 4:17 PM ET
  • Investors push Fear & Greed into neutral

    Who knew Europe could wield so much power? A deal, and not even a very concrete one, is sending investors on a buying spree.

    Related: Euro 'breakthrough' is tenuous

    Stocks around the globe rallied on the surprise announcement, which could mark the first baby step toward creating a banking, and ultimately fiscal, union. Of course, there are about a thousand details that need to be hammered out but for now everyone is MORE

    - Jun 29, 2012 12:58 PM ET
  • No goal for Europe: Investors still afraid

    Spain's banks have asked for a bailout. But investors are still very nervous -- as well they should be.

    Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds shot back up to about 6.5% Monday after hitting a low of 6.02% earlier in the day on hopes that the rescue package for Spain was a step in the right direction. Italian 10-year yields also had a volatile day, jumping to about 6% after dipping as MORE

    - Jun 11, 2012 12:42 PM ET
  • Investors run for cover as fear intensifies

    If you thought last week was bad, it's just gotten a lot worse.

    A series of disappointing manufacturing reports were topped off Friday with dismal jobs numbers that showed a paltry 69,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in May.

    Related: Behind the jobs report

    If that's not enough to give you agita, the yield on the 10-year note tumbled to a record low of 1.46% today. It's not MORE

    - Jun 1, 2012 2:35 PM ET
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