U.S. investors, ignoring the traditional retreat-homeward approach in times of international crisis, continued buying foreign equities in the third quarter, a Securities Industry Association economist reports.

In addition, foreign investors quickly moved away from U.S. equities in August, when the Mideast crisis erupted, David G. Strongin, SIA director of international finance, said in the organization's current foreign activity report.In the third quarter, U.S. investors bought a net $810 million of foreign equities, compared with $6 billion in the 1990 second quarter and $2.4 billion in the 1989 third quarter.

Third quarter 1990 net purchases were modest, but the pattern indicates "U.S. investors have faith in foreign equity markets despite the precariousness of the world's political and economic situation," he said.

Overall, net U.S. purchases of foreign equities through the third quarter totaled $7.3 billion, second to the record $9.4 billion a year ago. In the fixed income area, U.S. investors bought a net $665 million of foreign bonds in the third quarter, down from $5.7 billion in second quarter.