By Dion Rabouin
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Emerging markets assets have seen net inflows of $13.2 billion since late July, outpacing net inflows to developed markets in investors' portfolios and reaching the highest level of representation in global mutual funds and ETFs in more than a year, a recent survey found.
A report from the Institute of International Finance showed the share of emerging markets assets in the portfolios of global mutual fund and ETF investors reached 11.7 percent as of Aug. 17, its highest level since August 2015.
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Over the past three weeks, emerging markets bond portfolios saw average inflows of $870 million. That was up dramatically from the first half of the year, during which emerging market bonds saw an average of just $85 million of weekly inflows.
“Bond yields in EMs are even more attractive now relative to their mature peers," said Emre Tiftik, deputy director of global capital markets at IIF. "Given institutional investors - pension funds, insurers - hunt for yield in low interest rate environment, their interest in EM bonds have been striking."
The turnaround in emerging markets equities was even more pronounced. Over the past three weeks, emerging markets equities have seen $930 million of inflows per week versus an average of $250 million per week of outflows in the first half of 2016.
The numbers are partly a reflection of the fundamental turnaround in many emerging markets. IIF projects GDP growth in emerging markets to outpace developed markets in the near term. Additionally, emerging markets have benefited from stabilizing data from China, rebounding commodity prices and expectations of a slower pace at the U.S. Federal Reserve in raising short-term interest rates.
The numbers also reflect investors' search for yield in the low-interest-rate environment in which more than $10 trillion in sovereign debt now carries negative interest rates, IIF said.
"With the amount of the bonds at a negative rates in mature markets increasing, EM bond markets are becoming an attractive destination for institutional investors in the U.S. and particularly in the euro area," Tiftik said.
Emerging markets bond funds saw net inflows of $6 billion, while emerging markets equity funds saw inflows of $7.2 billion.
While emerging market asset buying has risen significantly in the second half of the year, IIF cautioned that inflows were still well below their levels from 2010-2013 when EM bonds and equities rose to more than 20 percent of portfolio weighting, according to IIF's data.
(Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)