Investors sought refuge from sliding equity markets and the latest bout of US dollar weakness during the first week of March by channelling their money into funds geared directly and indirectly to the global commodities story, according to data provider EPFR Global. Based in Massachusetts, EPFR tracks around $10 trillion in assets in traditional and alternative funds worldwide.

Commodities sector funds were the only ones among the nine major sector fund groups tracked by EPFR Global to post inflows. Commodities sector funds posted inflows for the eighth time in 10 weeks year-to-date during the first week of March. So far this year, this fund group has absorbed a net $3.64 billion and returned over 18%. That makes it the best performer among the major EPFR Global-tracked fund groups and second only to money markets funds in terms of net flows.

Last week also showed some evidence of bargain hunting. Europe equity funds posted inflows for the first time in 27 weeks mainly due to the $1 billion taken in by a single Swiss fund, EPFR Global says. High-yield bond funds snapped an 11-week losing streak, meanwhile.

Flows into the more defensive fund groups were generally subdued, with money market, US bond and balanced funds recording inflows that were well below their recent weekly averages.

Funds geared to regions or countries that are big importers of commodities did not fare well. Asia ex-Japan equity funds were hit with net redemptions for the 12th time in the past 13 weeks, US equity funds for the sixth time in seven weeks and Japan country funds for the 48th time in the past 49 weeks.

Europe, Middle East and Asia equity funds were the big winners among the major emerging markets fund groups in early March as investors sought exposure to the energy and mineral resources of Russia, South Africa and Middle East oil producers. The $695 million absorbed by these funds makes them the only group to have net inflows year-to-date.