Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly fund review, in which we scrutinize the past week's notable fund news and tell you what it means for Foolish investors.
Managers still upbeat on global markets
The stock market has been on one wild ride lately, and investment managers have been hanging on for dear life. But in spite of the recent ups and downs, most see continued buying opportunities around the globe. Merrill Lynch's monthly survey of fund managers revealed that more of these managers now view the global equity market as being undervalued.
The survey also revealed that managers are slightly more cautious about the U.S. economy over the next 18 months, and that most consider the domestic economy to be in a late-cycle phase. Respondents also indicated that they expect volatility to subside in the coming months. But most comforting is the finding that most fund managers expect ample opportunities for buying equities in the immediate future.
Of course, given the degree that the market has dropped in the past few weeks, there should be more investment opportunities available now than a month ago. It also shouldn't be surprising that more and more managers are turning to foreign markets in light of a slowing domestic economy. It is very probable that those stocks that will do best over the next few years are those multinational corporations that have exposure to foreign countries. Domestic equity returns may be somewhat below average for a while. But as long as most managers are confident that buying opportunities still exist, that is likely to calm some of the panic that this month's market volatility has helped to incite.
Closed-end funds hit hard
Closed-end funds have been enjoying their day in the sun for the past few years, no doubt fueled in part by the popularity of exchanged-traded funds. Investors were drawn to the trading flexibility and frequent trading discounts that closed-end funds offered. However, recent weeks have been unkind to these investments, and closed-end funds have found themselves on the wrong side of the market's favor.
Many closed-end funds have recently suffered losses well in excess of most traditional mutual funds. For example, the Pioneer Diversified High Income Trust Fund (HNW) has lost 22% of its value since the end of June. The Evergreen Global Dividend Opportunity Fund
Unfortunately for closed-end fund investors, these investments tend to be especially vulnerable to market downturns. And with all of the attention these funds had been getting from hedge funds as of late, it was inevitable that some downward pricing pressure would occur. The funds' recent difficulties should serve as a reminder that no matter what investment is being touted as the next big thing, downturns occur and even the brightest star can fall from the sky.
Those investors that rushed into closed-end funds because everyone else was doing it may now be paying the price. Be aware of the potential problems with any kind of investment, as well as the benefits, before buying. At any rate, closed-end funds will live to see tomorrow, so wait for the market turmoil to subside. The market drop will likely leave investors with some attractively-priced closed-end funds to choose from, so keep your eyes open.
Money-market fund assets at record level
While nervous investors have withdrawn billions of dollars from the stock market in recent weeks, there has been one benefactor of this fear -- money market funds. Recent data indicates that investors stuffed over $70 billion into money market funds during the week ending Tuesday, August 14th, bringing total net assets to a record of more than $2.6 trillion. Most of the inflows came from institutional investors, but retail investors added roughly $10 billion to money accounts this past week, as they fled the volatility of the stock market.
During market downturns, such activity is to be expected. Investors are running scared and want to put their money someplace safe. However logical this move may seem, it is misguided. By moving their money out of the stock market, investors will miss any kind of rebound that occurs. No one can time the peaks and troughs of the market, but, as the saying goes, "You have to be in it to win it."
Pulling out now is a guarantee that you lock in your losses. Since people usually only get back into the market once things seem like they are turning around, these investors will miss a lot of the bounce back. The bottom line is: don't try to time the market. Invest for the long-term and ignore the short-term dips in the road. Stay invested in the market, and don't make the mistake of trying to play it safe with money market funds.
Fool contributor Amanda Kish lives in Rochester, N.Y., and does not own shares of any of the companies or funds mentioned herein. Suez is a Global Gains recommendation, while Vodafone is an Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.