Investors poured a net of $2.84 billion into exchange-traded funds in October, even as more than $11 billion flowed out of U.S. equities. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.5 percent last month on renewed macroeconomic concern, pulling total U.S.-listed ETF assets down about 1 percent to less than $1.289 trillion.
So far this year, $139.23 billion have flowed into U.S.-listed ETFs, and, including market movement, total assets are up 21 percent from the $1.062 trillion in assets at the end of 2011. Assets are meanwhile up 19 percent compared with October 2011, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.
The outflows from U.S. equities were offset by $7 billion in inflows to international equity, more than $5 billion into fixed-income and upwards of $2 billion into commodities.
Last month's least popular fund was the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), the world's largest ETF, which suffered outflows of more than $7 billion. Investors were again fretting as macroeconomic data on the economy was showing signs of faltering and debt problems in the eurozone again threatened market stability.
Score 1 For 'Core'
But the most popular fund last month, the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV), showed that ETF sponsors can definitely move the asset-gathering needle by jockeying for bragging rights by marketing ultra-cheap funds.
IVV was reintroduced by iShares last month with a cheaper price—the new version costs 0.07 percent a year compared with its previous expense ratio of 0.09 percent. The new IVV gathered more than $2 billion, and its assets ended the month at more than $33 billion.
IVV's re-christening was part of the introduction of iShares' new "Core" brand of ETFs designed for long-term investors interested in paying as little as possible in management fees for broad, pure beta exposure funds that can serve as the cornerstone of any portfolio.
A Good Month For iShares
IVV was the leading edge of a solid month of asset gathering for BlackRock's iShares unit, the biggest ETF company in the world.
iShares and the No. 3 ETF firm Vanguard each saw asset inflows that represented roughly 1.4 percent of each firm's total assets coming into the month. iShares pulled in $7.77 billion, while Vanguard added $3.28 billion in assets.
State Street Global Advisors, the second-largest ETF provider by assets, meanwhile suffered redemptions of $9.3 billion last month, much of that related to outflows from SPY.
Also, three iShares emerging market ETFs were among the month's most popular funds, including the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (NYSEArca: EEM), which saw inflows of $1.26 billion.
All in all, investors poured more than $7 billion into international equities ETFs in October.
Other noteworthy creations last month were in gold. SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), the world's biggest bullion ETF, and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) raked in $922 million and $480 million, respectively.
Additionally, some $5.5 billion of new investor assets found their way into fixed-income ETFs last month, with U.S. debt funds snagging $3.2 billion of that total.
The iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (NYSEArca: LQD), the world's biggest debt ETF, and the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Fund (NYSEArca: VCSH) were the most popular fixed-income ETFs in October, with inflows of $817 million and $569 million, respectively.
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