(Reuters) – U.S. equity funds suffered massive outflows in the seven days to Feb. 22, hit by worries over higher interest rates as strong economic data pointed to the U.S. Federal Reserve sticking to its tighter monetary policy for some time more. Refinitiv Lipper data showed investors withdrew a net $6.88 billion out of U.S. equity funds, marking their biggest weekly outflow since Jan. 4.

U.S. large-, and mid-cap funds suffered weekly disposals of $5.68 billion and $389 million respectively but small-cap received a marginal $79 million worth of inflows.

Tech and real state witnessed $856 million and $603 million worth of outflows, while consumer discretionary and utilities, both lost about $300 million in net selling.

Economic data releases during the reported week showed upbeat U.S. business activity in February and fewer weekly unemployment claims, solidifying expectations that interest rates would remain higher for longer.

Meanwhile, investors exited U.S. bond funds for a second straight week as they withdrew a net $1.67 billion. U.S. high yield and municipal debt funds suffered outflows of $6.4 billion and $1.78 billion, respectively, but U.S. short/intermediate government and treasury funds saw about $4.85 billion worth of net buying.

Meanwhile, money market funds obtained $541 million, marking a second weekly inflow in a row.

(Reporting by Gaurav Dogra and Patturaja Murugaboopathy in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)