As fears about future economic growth roil markets, financial firms are falling out of vogue with ETF investors at a pace unseen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The $24 billion Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF) had $1.8 billion of outflows last week, the most since July 2008.
The $24 billion fund has seen investors pull $4.6 billion this year, the fourth most among nonleveraged U.S. equity exchange-traded funds. Its price has fallen more than 10% in December alone.
Concerns that the economy will buckle under tighter monetary policy and the gradual decline in the quality of lending have pushed financial stocks into a bear market, accelerating the exodus from the sector. Meanwhile, pessimists are piling in, with the fund's short interest rising last week to 3.5% of shares outstanding, the most in 15 months.
The S&P 500 Financials Sector Index fell as much as 0.9% Monday before regaining much of the slide. Goldman Sachs Group was among the leading decliners, dropping for a ninth consecutive session as Malaysia filed the first criminal charges against the Wall Street giant in relation to the 1MDB scandal.