Investors continue to flee mutual funds as they prepare for the start of 2013.  For the week ended Dec. 19, investors pulled an estimated $4.49 billion from mutual funds, marking the third consecutive week that investors left the funds in the red, according to the latest statistics from the Investment Company Institute.

U.S. equity funds suffered the biggest outflows, losing an estimated $5.22 billion for the week. Global stock funds, in contrast, attracted $292 million in estimated inflows.

Municipal bond funds got hit too, for the first time this year. Investors yanked an estimated $3.26 billion from the funds, giving them a severe black eye and their first weekly outflow this year. Taxable bond funds, meanwhile, hauled in $3.69 billion, leaving bond funds with a paltry $431 million in estimated inflows, down sharply from the $1.79 billion they attracted in estimated inflows a week earlier.

Hybrid funds, which invest in both stocks and fixed income securities, posted a measly $11 million in estimated inflows for the week, a 91% drop from the $119 million the week before.

The weekly fund flow estimates are derived from data covering more than 95% of industry assets, according to ICI.  The statistics cover long-term mutual funds, those the ICI defines as investing in long-term instruments.

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