A Surprise for Passive Funds

Kevin McDevitt, CFA
Note: This is an excerpt from the Morningstar Direct U.S. Asset Flows Commentary for January 2019. The full report can be downloaded here.

Long-term flows bounced back with $39 billion in January inflows after $83 billion of outflows in December, yet they trailed by wide margins the previous two January hauls, which were $132 billion in 2018 and $63 billion in 2017. The 12-month trend in long-term flows remained weak with only about $56 billion in inflows during that stretch.

January's biggest surprise may have been the relative flows for active and passive U.S. equity funds. Passive funds fared worse than their active counterparts for the first time since January 2014. U.S. equity funds had modest outflows of $3.8 billion overall, despite the S&P 500 gaining 8% (the index's best January since 1987). On balance, these outflows came from passive U.S. equity funds, while active flows were flat.

Kevin McDevitt, CFA does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.