Investors poured money into equities last month, both domestic and international, helping fuel April’s 4 percent rally in U.S. stocks. Flows into U.S.-listed exchange-traded products were more than $22 billion and, counting the market’s gains, assets rose 5.4 percent to almost $1.138 trillion, a record.
The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), the world’s biggest exchange-traded fund, sucked in $2.75 billion in April, more than any other fund, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse. It’s clear by now that it’s only a matter of time before SPY becomes a $100 billion fund. Year-to-date, assets in U.S.-listed ETPs jumped almost 13 percent from the nearly $1.009 trillion at the end of 2010.
Stocks regained their footing in April after stumbling earlier in the year in the wake of unrest in the Middle East, spurred higher by strong consumer demand and corporate profits. The surge in stocks has also been supported by the Federal Reserve’s ongoing measures to stimulate the economy. The Fed has kept official interest rates near zero for more than two years and has also been buying Treasurys to keep bond yields and borrowing rates low.
On the flip side, investors pulled money out of bond funds, in a possible sign that they are preparing for the Fed to begin to reverse its extraordinarily accommodative policies. Last week, for example, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank currently had no plans to renew its $600 billion Treasurys-purchasing program that has been going on over the past eight months.
Also, a number of popular energy funds suffered outflows last month after being on a tear earlier in the year, given the unrest in the Middle East, particularly in oil-rich Libya. The unrest put a bid into oil markets, and NYMEX crude finished April at $113.93 a barrel.
That nervousness also propelled gold futures to a record. Comex futures ended the month at $1,556 a troy ounce, and also cemented the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) as the second-biggest U.S.-listed ETF after SPY. GLD gathered almost $900 million in April, ending the month a $60.68 billion fund.
Meanwhile, the biggest ETF company in the world, BlackRock’s iShares, bested the No. 2 and No. 3 firms, State Street Global Advisors and Vanguard, in asset-gathering in April. iShares added almost $9 billion in new assets, while SSgA and Vanguard gathered $5.28 billion and $2.81 billion, respectively.
|April 2011 League Tables|
|Issuer||Net Flows||AUM ($M)||% of AUM||Turnover|
|US Commodity Funds||-820.12||4,901.00||-16.73%||13,482.84|
|Emerging Global Shares||13.25||552.53||2.40%||92.83|
|DBX Strategic Advisors||-||140.38||0.00%||7.59|
|Flows By Asset Class And Total Flows|
|Net Flows ($, mm)||AUM ($, mm)||% of AUM|
|U.S. Fixed Income||2,114.51||141,029.67||1.50%|
|International Fixed Income||509.13||9,561.57||5.32%|
Smart beta isn’t smarter than cap weighting, but it is different, and that’s great for investors.
Trial by fire is one way to discover why ETF transparency matters.
Most people now realize leveraged ETFs can hurt you, but how, then, to use them?
What would a shift out of a mutual fund and into an ETF look like up close?