Investors dumped $3.5 billion from equity funds this week

A series of wild swings in the stock market this week rattled investors, who pulled $3.5 billion from U.S. equity funds and fled to the safety of government debt.

Funds that invest in U.S. stocks saw $3.5 billion of outflows in the week ending Wednesday, the largest exodus since the week ending Oct. 17, when $14.8 billion was withdrawn amid a deep equity sell-off, according to data from EPFR Global.

Stocks turned sour on fears of an economic downturn signaled by the bond market and ongoing U.S. trade tensions with China, which deepened after President Donald Trump declared himself “Tariff Man.” U.S. talks with China on trade were further complicated by the arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech firm Huawei.

At the same time, investors added $1.5 billion to Treasury funds as elevated stock market volatility fueled demand for safe-haven government debt.

U.S. corporate bond funds also took a hit during the roller-coaster ride in the markets, with $1.9 billion of outflows in the week ending Dec.5.

Wall Street is poised to end the wild week with more bleeding. Stocks dropped sharply on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 400 points by midday, while the S&P 500 pulled back 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2 percent.

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