Small-capitalization stocks and related exchange traded funds have been an unloved asset category this year as investors turned to larger, more stable companies during the volatile conditions.

Year-to-date, the iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: IJR) fell 6.1%,  Vanguard Small Cap ETF (NYSEArca: VB) declined 8.1%, iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) decreased 9.8% and Schwab U.S. Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: SCHA) dropped 8.7%.

The Russell 2000 has retreated 10% in 2016, and the small-cap index is still in a bear market, falling 21.1% from its record high last summer, reports Adam Samson for the Financial Times.

Dan Suzuki, an equity strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch who oversees the bank’s small-cap research, argues that the current environment is “horrible” for small-caps.

Small-cap stocks, which tend to be lower-quality companies with weaker balance sheets, have fallen out of favor as investors shied away from riskier assets this year. Instead, large-cap stocks were considered safer and better able to weather the recent market swings and U.S. economic slowdown.

“When you’re afraid of markets going down, you move to large-caps,” Pankaj Patel, head of quantitative and small-cap research at Evercore ISI, told the Financial Times.

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