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First Quarter 'Dash for Cash' Largest Since Early 2020 -BofA

LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Investors moved $508 billion into cash in the first three months of this year, the largest quarterly inflow since market turmoil early in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to BofA Global Research, as the failure of several banks sent markets spinning.

Flows into cash of $60.1 billion in the week to Wednesday were down from $142.9 billion the previous week, but the quarterly dash for cash was the biggest since the first quarter of 2020, BofA said on Friday, citing data from EPFR.

Markets have gyrated wildly this month following the collapse of U.S. regional lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and Europe's Credit Suisse.

Investors dumped bank stocks, with a net $600 million outflow from financial equity funds in the week, although expectations the turmoil could lead to a slower pace of central bank rate hikes meant funds investing in tech attracted $400 million in inflows.

The S&P 500 financial index has fallen more than 10% in March and is set for its biggest monthly decline in nine months. In contrast, 'big tech' stocks are on track for a 10% monthly gain.

"Panic, flush, unwind, then Fed blinked and off we rally into April," BofA said in the report.

The report also showed large flows into emerging market equities in the first quarter. If year-to-date inflows of $37.4 billion continue at the same pace through 2023, it would be the largest annual inflow on record.

For the week to Wednesday, gold funds attracted a net $500 million, and bond funds a net $2.3 billion.

Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Amanda Cooper, Kirsten Donovan

Source: Reuters

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