Despite a rocky month for U.S. stocks, investors poured $17 billion into exchange traded funds last month, though that is well off the pace of roughly $25 billion seen in June.

“Market prognosticators will likely point to the brewing escalation in the Ukraine, ongoing tensions in the Middle East, Argentina’s latest default and concerns about the Federal Reserve’s intentions as the reasons we saw equity markets decline in the last days of July leading to negative returns on the month. More likely, some fatigue may be setting in as risky assets have performed admirably for months on end. At the same time, subtle and not so subtle shifts are taking place within and across markets. Thus, as usual there is more than meets the eye and ETF flows are one of the best places to look for answers,” said State Street Global Advisors, the second-largest U.S. ETF issuer, in a report.

Equity-based ETFs dominated July inflows, hauling in $16.1 billion of the $17 billion investors allocated to ETFs. That is the latest data point that shows equity ETFs continue to separate themselves from bond funds for the 2014 inflows crown. Bond ETFs were inflow leaders early in the year as 10-year Treasury yields tumbled. [Bond ETFs Bulk Up]

“At the sector level, outflows were driven by profit taking in top performing sectors, such as Energy, and investor concern with the mixed earnings from Industrials. While money started to come out of rate sensitive areas toward month-end, Real Estate and Utilities were positive on the whole. Mid-cycle sectors including Technology and Consumer Discretionary led the way on the positive end of the spectrum,” said State Street.

ETFs tracking six of the 10 S&P 500 sectors saw outflows with industrial funds suffering $2.56 billion in redemptions. That after the Industrial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLI) was the tenth-best asset gatherer among all ETFs in the second quarter. [Industrial ETFs Look Flimsy]

Investors allocated nearly $38 billion to sector funds in the first half of this year, but since the start of the third quarter, large redemptions are seen across some sector ETFs. That group includes XLI, the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) and the iShares U.S. Industrials ETF (NYSEArca: IYJ).

Geographically, investors focused their greatest attention toward US equities, but International exposures were not too far behind and remain in a narrow lead through the first seven months of 2014,” said State Street.