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HK: Fund industry resumes net inflows in May 2003

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In May 2003, the fund industry registered gross sales of US$1,598.86 million, an increase of 23.5% over April, according to the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association ("HKIFA").

May registered net sales of US$285.82 million, after recording net outflows in April. However, the level was substantially lower than the monthly average inflows (US$638.81 million) recorded in the first quarter.

For the second consecutive month, bond funds came first in both gross and net sales: gross sales rose 57.3% to US$618.44 million, from US$393.10 million in April, representing 38.7% of the industry total. Net inflows were at US$222.37 million, up by 25.6% over April, and accounted for 77.8% of the net total.

All the three bond categories saw an increase in gross sales. Amongst the three, US dollar bond funds continued to be the most popular. Net inflows went up by 21.7% to US$161.62 million, representing 72.7% of the total net inflows into bond funds.

In terms of gross sales, global bond funds enjoyed the largest increase – sales doubled and reached US$178.81 million. Gross sales of the US dollar bond funds and other bonds each soared about 45%.

Equity funds came second in both gross and net sales. Equity funds attracted gross inflows of US$505.03 million, the highest since March 2000 and accounted for 31.6% of the industry total. It is the second consecutive month that equity funds registered net inflows. Net inflows reached US$61.82 million – an increase of 6.8 times over April, and accounted for 21.6% of the industry total.

Out of the 11 equity sectors, nine recorded net inflows. Only European equity funds and emerging markets funds saw net outflows.
Guaranteed funds attracted gross inflows of US$191.74 million, of which US$13.60 million was new money.

Commenting on fund sales, Mrs. Sally Wong, a spokesperson of HKIFA said, "Retail fund sales have picked up substantially in May (Note 1). This probably ties in with the improvement in investment sentiment with the containment of Sars, and the rally in the global equity markets."

As for the outlook of sales in the coming quarter, Mrs. Wong said, "while guaranteed funds will continue to attract modest inflows, it is likely that the level of inflows will be weaker than that registered last year as the gradual improvement in the economic outlook has increased the risk appetite of some investors.

"The historic low interest rates and subdued inflation expectations probably will continue to provide some support to bond funds sales. However, if there are more signs suggesting that the economic outlook is firming up, inflows may become less robust."

"Equity funds are likely to attract more inflows with the improvement in investor sentiment. However, in the short term, cautions optimism prevails as economic signals have been rather mixed. Inflows probably will continue to be sector or market specific rather than across-the-board. It is likely that only when there are more convincing signs of a sustained pick up will equity funds attract massive inflows."

The HKIFA has 45 fund management companies as full/overseas members. It has 45 associates, which include trustees and other professionals that are involved in the creation and administration of funds.
--www.theasianbanker.com (July 18, 2003)--

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