January ETF Flows: Hot Start To 2011 (QQQQ, SPY, GLD, IAU, VWO, EEM, IWM, VTI, EWZ, DIA, VOO, CCX)
In 2010 the ETF industry stumbled coming out of the gate, as more than $17 billion flowed out of exchange-traded products in the first month of the year. This year’s January figures showed an opposite result, as the latest data released by the National Stock Exchange shows that U.S.-listed ETPs took in more than $10 billion last month. The industry finished the month with $1.02 trillion in assets, an increase of about 1% over the prior month.
Reversing the trend of recent years, money flowed into domestic equity funds (inflows of almost $10 billion) and out of international stock ETFs (outflows of $1.3 billion) in January. Commodity ETFs also bled assets as investors fled physically-backed gold products, while fixed income funds saw big inflows [see Are Bond ETFs Broken?].
After taking in more than $40 billion in 2010, Vanguard picked up where it left off in 2011 by leading all issuers with $4.2 billion in inflows. Not far behind was PowerShares, which surged higher thanks to big inflows into its flagship PowerShares QQQ (NASDAQ:QQQQ) (the fund raked in $2.5 billion of the firm’s total $3.2 billion during the month). iShares saw its market share drop under 44% after monthly outflows totaled more than $3 billion. First Trust continued an impressive run with nearly $500 million in January inflows. The firm’s ETF assets are up nearly 200% since last January, and market share has doubled over that period.
After losing more than $16 billion in January 2010, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) saw solid inflows of $1.5 billion last month to inch up to more than $93 billion in total. Meanwhile, the second largest ETF continued to bleed assets, as $2.3 billion flowed out of the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD). The physically-backed gold SPDR has now experienced four consecutive months of outflows. And GLD continued to lose ground to its iShares competitor; the COMEX Gold Trust (NYSE:IAU) also saw outflows, but of only about $300 million. iShares cut the expense ratio on IAU to 25 basis points last summer, and the fund has been gaining ground on its much larger rival ever since [also read Free ETF Trading, Comparing All The Options].
VWO Tops EEM
In another closely-watched head-to-head battle, Vanguard finally gained the upper hand in the emerging markets ETF space. (NYSE:VWO) surpassed iShares (NYSE:EEM) in terms of total assets for the first time; both funds track the MSCI Emerging Markets Index but VWO has a clear edge in expenses (27 basis points compared to 69 bps for EEM). VWO, now the third largest U.S.-listed ETF, took in $1.7 billion while EEM bled nearly $7 billion [see Investors Are Embracing Cost Conscious ETFs...Or Are They?].
In addition to GLD and EEM, other funds experiencing major outflows included the Russell 2000 Index Fund (NYSE:IWM), ($1.9 billion) and Vanguard’s MSCI Total Market ETF (NYSE:VTI), ($818 billion). Five ETFs took in at least $1 billion last month, including SPY, QQQQ, VWO, the iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSE:EWZ) and Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSE:DIA).
Several of the newer additions to the ETF lineup appear to be gaining considerable traction. Vanguard’s S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:VOO) took in about $360 million, or nearly 150% of December assets. Also posting a big relative gain was WisdomTree’s Commodity Currency ETF (NYSE:CCX), which raked in $91 million to push total AUM to $116 million [see Using A Currency ETF To Play Commodities].
Though the ETF industry remains top-heavy, the smaller and more targeted products out there continue to gain ground. In aggregate, the 20 largest exchange-traded products account for about 47% of total assets, but these same 20 behemoths saw outflows of about $3 billion last month.
Written By Michael Johnston From ETF Database Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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