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U.S. Equity Funds Post Slower Inflows

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bar chart showing the decline in inflows to US equity funds

The Briefing

  • U.S. equity fund flows sank to $48 billion in February, a 70% decline from March 2021
  • Large growth funds continue to see outflows as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates

U.S. Equity Funds Post Slower Inflows

Investors are bracing for several interest rate hikes amid a Russia-Ukraine war.

In February, U.S. equity fund flows hit $48 billion, a 70% decline from the year before. In the previous month, U.S. equity fund flows hit their lowest level since the pandemic began.

With data from Morningstar, we show how the invasion of Ukraine and a rising rate environment has affected U.S. equity fund flows.

Risk-Off Environment

In January, investors shed a record $23 billion from large growth funds, the highest level since 2017. This trend continued in February as investors sought out lower-risk investments.

Growth stocks historically tend to outperform when interest rates are declining. When the price of capital is low, companies borrow and expand operations at a lower cost.

The reverse is true when rates rise, putting pressure on corporate earnings and equity valuations. In March 2022, the Fed raised interest rates for the first time since 2018.

Growth funds also tend to be more volatile during market selloffs. So far in 2022, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) is up more than 40%.

Fund CategoryJanuary 2022 Estimated Net Flow February Estimated Net Flow
Large Growth

-$23.2B-$6.0B
Mid-Cap Growth-$3.5B-$1.2B
Small Growth-$2.7B-$1.1B
Large Blend-$3.5B$38.5B
Mid-Cap Blend$0.7B$2.1B
Small Blend-$0.4B$0.9B
Large Value$10.9B$15.8B
Mid-Cap Value$0.1B$1.0B
Small Value$1.6B$0.2B

Large blend funds saw the highest inflows, at $38.5 billion, while large cap value funds saw a moderate $15.8 billion in inflows.

Unlike growth funds, value funds tend to outperform when interest rates are rising. Over the last decade, growth funds, marked by low-margins and high valuations have shown stronger performance than value.

U.S. Equity Funds by Sector

Which U.S. equity fund sectors saw the highest inflows and outflows?

Sector CategoryEstimated Net Flow – Feb 2022 Estimated Net Flow – YTD 2022
Equity Energy$1.7B$5.2B
Consumer Defensive$1.0B$3.6B
Natural Resources$0.8B$1.5B
Consumer Cyclical-$1.5B-$3.7B
Health-$1.8B-$3.7B
Technology-$1.9B-$6.8B

Energy, consumer defensive, and natural resources—all typically cyclical, value-skewed sectors—saw the highest inflows at $1.7 billion, $1.0 billion, and $0.8 billion, respectively. Gas prices in the U.S. have hit record prices amid supply pressures from the war.

Meanwhile, investors withdrew $1.9 billion from technology sector funds in February, the highest out of any sector category. Year-to-date, technology sector funds have seen almost $7 billion in net outflows.

As investors veer away from growth sectors, they are flocking to safer assets, like money market funds as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine unfolds.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Morningstar February 2022 U.S. Fund Flows Report, March 2022.

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The Rising Demand for Nature-based Climate Solutions

Carbon credits from nature-based solutions are in high demand as organizations look to shrink their carbon footprints.

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nature based climate solutions

The Briefing

  • Nature-based climate solutions include conservation, restoration, and land management projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Carbon credits from nature-based projects accounted for over 66% of transaction value in the voluntary carbon markets in 2021.

The Rising Demand for Nature-based Climate Solutions

The world’s forests are important carbon sinks that absorb a net 7.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.

Therefore, regrowing, preserving, and managing forests and other natural carbon sinks is crucial to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and nature-based climate solutions are one way to do so.

Nature-based solutions refer to conservation, restoration, and land management projects that generate carbon credits by avoiding, reducing or sequestering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With more organizations committing to climate targets, carbon credits from these projects have been in high demand.

The above graphic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation looks at the growing demand for carbon credits generated by nature-based projects using data from Ecosystem Marketplace.

The Growth of Nature-based Carbon Credits

With the race to net-zero ramping up, carbon markets have been growing as a whole.

In fact, the value of total transactions in the voluntary carbon markets in 2021 reached nearly $2 billion—more than tripling since 2020. Forestry and Land Use carbon credit projects led the growth, accounting for over 66% or over $1.3 billion worth of transactions in 2021.

Here’s a full breakdown of transaction values by project category:

Transaction YearForestry and Land UseRenewable EnergyEnergy Efficiency / Fuel SwitchingHousehold / Community DevicesOther and UnknownTotal
2016 $67M$25M$13M$18M$76M$199M
2017 $63M$32M$3M$12M$37M$146M
2018 $172M$41M$8M$30M$46M$296M
2019 $159M$60M$12M$25M$64M$320M
2020 $315M$102M$30M$36M$36M$520M
2021 $1,328M$479M$22M$43M$113M$1,985M

Figures have been rounded and may not sum up to the total.

Forestry and Land Use projects manage forests, soil, grasslands, and other land types to avoid or reduce carbon emissions or increase carbon sequestration. These projects generate one carbon credit for every tonne of CO2 equivalent GHGs that they remove or avoid from entering the atmosphere.

At the same time, they may offer co-benefits that can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals through improvements in biodiversity, soil health, air and water quality, and the livelihoods of local communities.

Therefore, Forestry and Land Use projects have a significant role to play in reaching net zero. In fact, according to research published in the scientific journal Nature, letting forests regrow naturally has the potential to absorb up to 8.9 billion tonnes of CO2 annually through 2050, while still maintaining native grasslands and current food production levels.

Nature’s Role in Reaching Net Zero

For organizations looking to achieve their sustainability goals, nature-based solutions offer an opportunity to preserve and restore critical carbon sinks while supporting biodiversity and local communities. As a result, these types of carbon credits often trade at a premium, and their demand is skyrocketing, especially with more corporations committing to sustainability.

Carbon Streaming aims to accelerate a net-zero future. It pioneered the use of streaming transactions, a proven and flexible funding model, to scale high-integrity carbon credit projects to accelerate global climate action and advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It focuses on projects that have a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and biodiversity, in addition to their carbon reduction or removal potential.

>>>Interested in learning more about Carbon Streaming? Click here to learn more.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Ecosystem Marketplace

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Visualizing the Forest Funding Gap Relative to Emissions

Deforestation accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions, yet receives just a small slice of climate funding. See why closing this funding gap is necessary to combat climate change. (Sponsored)

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The Briefing

  • Deforestation accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions
  • Deforestation receives just 2.2% of climate funding

The Forest Funding Gap

Climate change has been referred to as modern day civilization’s greatest challenge. And stopping deforestation is an important step in the battle to stop rising global temperatures. Yet, when you look at the amount of climate funding earmarked for deforestation, something doesn’t add up.

This graphic from The LEAF Coalition looks at the state of global deforestation and compares how much climate funding it receives relative to its global CO2 emissions.

Deforestation’s Role in Global Emissions

Protecting our forests and protecting the climate are one in the same. In fact, the data reveals that tropical deforestation accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions.

What’s more, these levels of emissions exceed that of all individual countries except for the U.S. and China. Despite this, climate funding towards deforestation only accounts for $14 billion of the over $618 billion available, representing a small 2.2% slice of the total.

This is especially problematic when considering a forest’s carbon stock and carbon sequestration capabilities. Here’s how different forests across the globe compare when looking at gigatonnes of carbon stock.

EcosystemEstimated Carbon Stock (Gt)Annual Loss Rate
Tropical moist forests 295 Gt0.45%
Boreal forests283 Gt0.18%
Temperate broadleaf forests133 Gt0.35%
Temperate conifer forests66 Gt0.28%
Tropical dry forests14 Gt0.58%
Mangroves7.3Gt0.13%

A carbon stock or carbon pool refers to a system that can store carbon and take it out of the atmosphere. Forests are used to offset plenty of carbon emissions, and by some estimates, it would cost $25 billion for additional carbon offsets to match and compensate for unabated emissions.

This is crucial because unabated emissions are those who’s harm are not reduced from carbon reduction methods. While this may sound like a lot, it’s equivalent to just 1.5% of the profits from Fortune Global 500 companies.

Altogether, approximately 30% of global emissions are absorbed by forests each year. Despite this, 3.75 million hectares of tropical primary rainforest were lost in 2021, equivalent to 600 football pitches per hour.

Turning The Page

It’s practically impossible to effectively tackle climate change without addressing deforestation. The broader agriculture, forestry and other land use category (which includes deforestation) accounts for 21% of all global CO2 emissions.

Swift action is required in order to slow deforestation and decelerate rising average temperatures. See how The LEAF Coalition, a public-private initiative, is accelerating climate action by providing results-based finance to countries committed to protecting tropical forests.

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