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Jeffrey Gundlach’s DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund, which has beaten 97 percent of rivals over the past three years, had its biggest net withdrawals as investors continued to flee bonds for the fourth straight month.

Clients pulled an estimated $2.1 billion from the $35.1 billion fund in September, according to research firm Morningstar. Investors removed $1.2 billion in June, the first withdrawals from the fund since it opened in April 2010, $580 million in July and $1.1 billion in August, Morningstar said.

Bond-fund withdrawals were triggered by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who told Congress on May 22 that the central bank could start reducing its bond purchases and is prepared to begin phasing out its unprecedented easing program later this year.

The central bank unexpectedly refrained from tapering its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases at the Sept. 17-18 policy meeting, saying it needs more evidence of lasting improvement in the economy.

Investors have pulled about $118 billion from U.S. bond funds from May 31 through Sept. 18, according to estimates from the Investment Company Institute.