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Investors tiptoe back into funds

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Investors cautiously headed back into stock mutual funds in the week ended July 29, despite a declining U.S. stock market, AMG Data Services says.

Stock funds pulled in a net $648 million in assets in the latest week, AMG said Friday. That's a lean week under normal circumstances but a reversal of the previous week's $1.56 billion outflow. In grabbing the small inflow, stock funds avoided what could have been the first back-to-back weeks of net outflows of 1998.In the corresponding week last year, stock funds took in a net $3.70 billion.

Money market funds had slight outflows in the latest week, as investors pulled a net $803 million from the funds. That bucks a trend of large inflows into money funds when stock fund inflows are small or negative. Last week, when stock funds had outflows, money market funds hauled in a $10.65 billion inflow, one of the biggest of the year.

In the same week a year ago, money market funds had a $4.75 billion outflow.

All of the major stock market indexes headed south in the latest week, which served to keep stock inflows slim. In the week ended July 29, the Dow Jones industrial average dipped 2.34 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 3.33 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite tumbled 4.48 percent, and the small-cap Russell 2000 fell 5.49 percent.

Taxable bond funds continued to steadily pull in new cash, taking in a $863 million inflow for the week. That follows a week when the funds took in a net $758 million. Taxable bond funds have yet to experience a week of net outflows in 1998, AMG said. In the same week last year, taxable bond funds had a net $1.02 billion inflow.

Municipal bond funds had a razor-thin outflow, as investors pulled a net $4 million out of the funds. That's a drop in the bucket when considering the fund pulled in a $593 million inflow in the previous week. In the same week a year ago, muni bond funds had a $130 million inflow.