Jan. ETF Inflows Top $40B In Blistering Start To Year

February 01, 2017

In 2016, the U.S. ETF market broke records in terms of asset gathering, and it seems the pace of growth is set to continue this year.

In January, investors poured some $40.1 billion into U.S.-listed ETFs. That figure far exceeded the average monthly inflows seen last year of about $26 billion, and it stood in stark contrast to the modest intake seen in the same month a year ago.  

If the U.S. ETF market is indeed going to be breaking through $3 trillion in assets this year—as some project—this type of asset-gathering pace is clearly a must.

December Broke The Monthly Record
January’s solid inflows followed record-breaking net creations in December of about $61.5 billion. Those inflows pushed 2016’s total haul to $287.5 billion—an annual record. Today the U.S. ETF market has more than $2.64 trillion in assets.

“In the world of U.S.-listed ETFs, the flow of money narrative is crystal clear,” Convergex’s Nick Colas said in a commentary recently. “At the most macro level, investors have been shifting assets to ETFs since the financial crisis in search of transparent and liquid access to global capital markets.”

Last month, it was U.S. equity exposure that dominated net creations with $15 billion in inflows, but not by far. Investors seemed almost equally keen on international stock and U.S. fixed-income ETFs, pouring some $12 billion into each respective asset class.

ETF Giants See Big Demand

Among the most popular funds were ETF giants representing key segments of the market, such as the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund (VOO) and the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) for U.S. large-caps; small-cap-focused iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF (IJR) and the emerging market fund, iShares Core MSCI Emerging Market ETF (IEMG); and the corporate bond giant, iShares $ iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD).

As Colas put it: “Money flows connect ‘intent’ and ‘action’ in an easy-to-follow narrative.” What last month’s asset flows possibly tell us is that U.S. investors continue to buy in to the idea that the U.S. economy is improving, and earnings should continue to grow this year, as many project.

The numbers also show that—despite a lot of jitters surrounding the end of the 30-year bond bull market, the outlook for higher rates ahead, and concerns about inflation—demand for fixed-income ETFs remains strong. It is, however, focused on the shorter end of the yield curve, and on high-grade corporate debt.

On the losing side of the equation was commodities, which was a net loser in January, facing nearly $790 million in net outflows. The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)—one of the most popular funds in 2016—was among the biggest redemptions this January, bleeding $866 million in one month.

Top Gainers (January 2017)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM YTD 2017 Net Flows($,M)
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund Vanguard 2,158.00 59,776.72 3.75% 2,158.00
IJR iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF BlackRock 1,963.31 28,000.19 7.54% 1,963.31
IEFA iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF BlackRock 1,748.89 17,982.22 10.77% 1,748.89
IEMG iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF BlackRock 1,741.16 20,619.31 9.22% 1,741.16
DIA SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust State Street Global Advisors 1,654.46 16,521.47 11.13% 1,654.46
VCIT Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund Vanguard 1,603.58 11,933.63 15.52% 1,603.58
BSV Vanguard Short-Term Bond Index Fund Vanguard 1,464.10 21,076.43 7.47% 1,464.10
IJH iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF BlackRock 1,333.95 36,499.47 3.79% 1,333.95
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF BlackRock 1,241.51 28,303.78 4.59% 1,241.51
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF Vanguard 1,175.47 47,422.48 2.54% 1,175.47

 

Top Gainers (Year-to-Date)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM January 2017 Net Flows($,M)
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund Vanguard 2,158.00 59,776.72 3.75% 2,158.00
IJR iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF BlackRock 1,963.31 28,000.19 7.54% 1,963.31
IEFA iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF BlackRock 1,748.89 17,982.22 10.77% 1,748.89
IEMG iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF BlackRock 1,741.16 20,619.31 9.22% 1,741.16
DIA SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust State Street Global Advisors 1,654.46 16,521.47 11.13% 1,654.46
VCIT Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund Vanguard 1,603.58 11,933.63 15.52% 1,603.58
BSV Vanguard Short-Term Bond Index Fund Vanguard 1,464.10 21,076.43 7.47% 1,464.10
IJH iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF BlackRock 1,333.95 36,499.47 3.79% 1,333.95
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF BlackRock 1,241.51 28,303.78 4.59% 1,241.51
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF Vanguard 1,175.47 47,422.48 2.54% 1,175.47

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