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Investors still shunning stocks

July 19, 2012: 9:32 AM ET

Maybe it's the heat but investors have slowed their flight for the exits.

U.S. stock mutual funds lost only $1.47 billion during the week ended July 11, according to the Investment Company Institute. A week earlier, investors pulled out more than twice that much: $3.2 billion. Investors have now withdrawn money from the stock market for 20 of the past 21 weeks.

There is a lot to worry about. Europe is far from out of the woods and this week's non-committal comments from Fed chair Ben Bernanke are causing some unease. Not to mention, it's an election year and that ever elusive fiscal cliff is starting to loom a little larger.

So far this month, the S&P 500 (SPX), Nasdaq (COMP) and Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) are all just marginally higher.

For the first six months of the year, investors pulled an estimated $51.4 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds. By comparison, these funds lost $13.6 billion during the first six months of 2011 and $24.6 billion during the first six months of 2010.

Related: 6 worst performing ETFs

Despite investors' penchant for running toward the exits, stocks have had a pretty good year so far. The S&P 500 is up 9%, while the Nasdaq is up nearly 12% and the blue-chip Dow has inked gains of nearly 6%. Still, most analysts said the rest of the year will be challenging and fraught with volatility, according to a recent CNNMoney survey.

Meanwhile, bond mutual funds took in $6.4 billion in assets during the latest week, compared with the prior week's $1.4 billion inflow.

Related: 6 best performing ETFs

Hybrid funds, which invest in both stocks and bonds, gained $1.8 billion during the second week of July, building on the prior week's $1.1 billion inflow. Taking the middle road has been good for hybrid funds, which have enjoyed inflows for much of 2012.

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