If there’s one thing traders love, it’s volatility. Large price swings create opportunities for nimble traders to try and time the market by buying low and selling high.
Take the precipitous drop in the U.S. stock market during the first half of 2022—down 21%. And then the stunning rally between mid-June and mid-August—up more than 17%. Those are the types of moves traders dream of.
It’s not a surprise then that as the market has swung around excitedly in the past several months, traders have swung into action.
The high levels of trading activity are reflected in the market’s volume levels. Volume—a measure of how many shares trade hands on a given day—is averaging 24.1 billion shares per day across all U.S. exchanges, over the past year, up 70% from the prepandemic five-year average.
Trading activity exploded at the start of the pandemic as a combination of lockdowns and stimulus checks pushed millions of people into the stock market for the first time.
Volume today is down from the heady levels of late-2020 and early-2021, but still high historically.
Much of that volume is showing up in exchange-traded funds. The most actively traded securities on U.S. exchanges are often ETFs, with tens of millions of shares exchanging hands each day in some popular names.
Take the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY). It traded an average of 190.1 million shares per day on average during the last 30 days. For comparison, Tesla—the most actively traded stock within the S&P 500—traded an average of 75 million shares in that same time frame.
SPY isn’t the only ETF traders love. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) and the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) are a few heavyweights that routinely trade more than 20 million shares per day.
In many cases, these heavily traded funds aren’t the cheapest ETFs in their category, nor do they have the most assets under management. Instead, they’re often old, established funds with liquid options markets underlying them—characteristics that appeal to traders.
But it’s not just ETFs with big AUMs that traders love; there are several cases where ETFs that are small in terms of assets have huge amounts of volume. For instance, the ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UVXY) only has $929 million in AUM, but it trades a whopping 78.8 million shares per day, making it the fifth-most-traded ETF on the market.
Likewise, the ProShares UltraPro QQQ (TQQQ) has around $11 billion in assets—relatively small compared with some ETF giants—but it’s the most actively traded ETF in the U.S., with average daily trading volume of 190 million shares.
Those aren’t the only ETFs punching above their weight. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI) and the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) all have outsized volumes compared with assets.
Of course, simply measuring the volume of shares that trade hands for a particular ETF doesn't tell the whole story. All else equal, cheaper-priced funds tend to have more shares traded because investors can simply buy more for a given amount of money.
Dollar volume—which measures the number of shares traded multiplied by the share price—gives a more complete view of how much money is exchanging hands in a security.
At the top of the list, the picture changes with this new measure. SPY replaces TQQQ as top dog, with $33.1 billion worth of shares trading hands each day. QQQ, IWM, EEM are also close to the top, with more than $3 billion worth of shares traded daily.
Impressively, TQQQ, SQQQ and ARKK still make this list, with billions of dollars’ worth of shares trading daily.
For the full lists of the most actively traded ETFs, see the tables below:
Top 25 Volume Leaders
|Fund||Ticker||30-Day Avg Volume||30-Day Avg Dollar Volume||AUM ($M)|
|ProShares UltraPro QQQ||TQQQ||190,089,664.0||4,231,224,839.9||10934.37|
|ProShares UltraPro Short QQQ||SQQQ||143,347,008.0||7,527,151,390.1||4734.47|
|Direxion Daily Semiconductors Bull 3x Shares||SOXL||89,033,248.0||967,346,239.5||3508.68|
|SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust||SPY||88,190,872.0||33,127,137,249.4||336326.81|
|ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF||UVXY||78,778,928.0||900,167,420.8||928.71|
|Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1||QQQ||60,586,856.0||17,004,004,070.7||150440.89|
|Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3X Shares||LABU||48,094,172.0||368,877,489.8||1143.58|
|ProShares Short S&P500||SH||44,280,416.0||727,305,832.8||3789.63|
|Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLF||42,775,732.0||1,374,807,748.9||27772.01|
|iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF||EEM||41,862,244.0||1,528,390,528.4||20602.46|
|iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF||HYG||37,599,272.0||2,743,242,885.1||12748.92|
|ProShares UltraPro Short S&P 500||SPXU||33,398,982.0||639,423,510.4||1228.08|
|iShares China Large-Cap ETF||FXI||32,969,292.0||889,495,013.5||4532.09|
|ProShares Short QQQ||PSQ||29,117,764.0||413,181,071.2||1944.7|
|Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLE||27,796,534.0||2,189,532,983.2||35280.58|
|iShares Russell 2000 ETF||IWM||27,727,730.0||4,836,547,943.9||49905.43|
|iShares MSCI Brazil ETF||EWZ||27,038,782.0||879,030,802.8||5447.53|
|VanEck Gold Miners ETF/USA||GDX||26,121,200.0||668,180,296.0||9753.66|
|iShares MSCI EAFE ETF||EFA||25,792,680.0||1,524,863,241.6||40540|
|Direxion Daily S&P 500 Bear 3X Shares||SPXS||24,779,872.0||624,948,371.8||925.64|
|ARK Innovation ETF||ARKK||23,105,822.0||932,088,859.5||7683.24|
|Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF||VEA||20,968,508.0||806,159,452.3||86100.4|
|iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF||LQD||20,696,092.0||2,162,948,574.9||32350.29|
|iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF||TLT||19,551,102.0||2,029,599,898.6||24435.49|
|iShares Silver Trust||SLV||19,170,086.0||371,037,014.5||9332.99|
Top 25 Volume LeadersTop 25 Dollar-Volume Leaders
|Fund||Ticker||30-Day Avg Volume||30-Day Avg Dollar Volume||AUM ($M)|
|SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust||SPY||88,190,872||33,127,137,249||336,327|
|Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1||QQQ||60,586,856||17,004,004,071||150,441|
|ProShares UltraPro Short QQQ||SQQQ||143,347,008||7,527,151,390||4,734|
|iShares Russell 2000 ETF||IWM||27,727,730||4,836,547,944||49,905|
|ProShares UltraPro QQQ||TQQQ||190,089,664||4,231,224,840||10,934|
|iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF||HYG||37,599,272||2,743,242,885||12,749|
|Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLE||27,796,534||2,189,532,983||35,281|
|iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF||LQD||20,696,092||2,162,948,575||32,350|
|iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF||TLT||19,551,102||2,029,599,899||24,435|
|iShares Core S&P 500 ETF||IVV||5,233,943||1,973,981,414||275,911|
|Vanguard S&P 500 ETF||VOO||4,900,456||1,691,147,366||247,717|
|iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF||EEM||41,862,244||1,528,390,528||20,602|
|iShares MSCI EAFE ETF||EFA||25,792,680||1,524,863,242||40,540|
|Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLF||42,775,732||1,374,807,749||27,772|
|Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLV||9,767,348||1,228,836,889||36,557|
|SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust||DIA||3,363,892||1,013,775,981||25,970|
|SPDR Gold Shares||GLD||6,229,052||999,078,273||50,559|
|Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLU||14,452,732||987,771,969||16,681|
|SPDR Bloomberg High Yield Bond ETF||JNK||10,977,141||983,167,634||5,454|
|Direxion Daily Semiconductors Bear 3x Shares||SOXS||17,609,684||976,104,784||588|
|Direxion Daily Semiconductors Bull 3x Shares||SOXL||89,033,248||967,346,240||3,509|
|Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund||XLK||7,675,324||966,169,722||36,840|
|SPDR S&P Biotech ETF||XBI||11,457,454||938,136,334||6,833|
|ARK Innovation ETF||ARKK||23,105,822||932,088,859||7,683|
|ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF||UVXY||78,778,928||900,167,421||929|