Investors poured money into relatively risky emerging markets in February, making the world’s two biggest developing-markets ETFs the most popular funds. Overall, inflows totaled $13.8 billion and, including the market’s gains, total assets rose to over $1.201 trillion—4.4 percent more than a month earlier and 13.7 percent above February 2011.
While total inflows were about half of last month’s $28 billion blowout, it’s clear in the numbers that investors were taking on a lot more risk, as emerging markets are much more volatile than developed markets. Almost $5.4 billion flowed into international equities in February, compared with just $142.7 million of net inflows into U.S. equities.
Moreover, $4.15 billion flowed into U.S. fixed-income ETFs last month, with nearly half of that figure coming from the ETF market’s two biggest junk bond funds, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse. That move into junk was another sign of growing investor boldness, as high-yield debt often rallies as equity markets build up a bullish head of steam.
The Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) was the most-popular exchange-traded fund last month, gathering $2.46 billion in new assets, making it the top fund two months in a row. Riding the success of VWO, Vanguard hauled in $5.64 billion last month, more than any other ETF company. It’s still No. 3 behind iShares and State Street Global Advisors, but it’s slowly bridging the gap.
Lest last month’s flows report suggests the world economy is finally putting the economic turmoil of the past few years in the rearview mirror, the world’s biggest physical gold ETF (NYSEArca: GLD) was the No. 3 fund on our “Top Gainers” list, suggesting investors are still plenty worried about what lies ahead, even if debt-gorged Greece is on the verge of receiving a second bailout.
|Top Gainers ($, Millions)|
|Ticker||Name||Issuer||February 2012 Flows||February 2012 AUM ($, M)||February 2012 Turnover|
|VWO||Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets||Vanguard||2,458.93||55,083.40||21,651.00|
|EEM||iShares MSCI Emerging Markets||BlackRock||1,447.68||41,056.79||47,402.90|
|JNK||SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond||SSgA||1,137.53||11,930.80||4,319.13|
|VXX||iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN||Barclays Capital||907.62||1,660.39||17,250.56|
|HYG||iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond||BlackRock||813.11||14,258.76||5,072.14|
|LQD||iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond||BlackRock||809.39||19,563.38||4,645.63|
|VCIT||Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond||Vanguard||552.26||1,747.41||851.88|
|DEM||WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income||WisdomTree||477.13||3,330.46||936.98|
|Asset Class||Net Flows ($, mm)||AUM ($, mm)||% of AUM|
|U.S. Fixed Income||4,149.72||191,577.08||2.17%|
|International Fixed Income||395.97||13,893.92||2.85%|
|February 2012 League Table|
|Issuer||Net Flows||AUM ($M)||% of AUM||Turnover|
|US Commodity Funds||469.77||3,394.89||13.84%||12,042.23|
|Emerging Global Shares||41.91||679.19||6.17%||134.97|
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