Top Performing ETFs Of The Year

April 04, 2019

A tumultuous end to 2018 didn’t carry over into 2019. So far this year, it’s been smooth sailing for global stocks, as the MSCI ACWI Index surged by 12.3% during the first quarter.

It was the best quarter for the index—which tracks developed and emerging market stocks—since the third quarter of 2010. U.S. stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, did even better, rising 13.6% for their best quarterly showing since 2009’s third quarter.Granted, global stock markets are still off their highs from last year, but investors are no doubt reassured by the fact that equities have climbed so strongly in the face of ongoing concerns about sliding earnings, slowing economic growth, trade wars and Brexit.

Pot On Top

The best showing for global stocks in nearly a decade boded well for exchange-traded funds. Many ETFs registered sizzling gains during the first three months of the year, including four leveraged products that more than doubled.

We’ll get to those later, but first we’ll run down the top-performing ETFs of the year that delivered their gains without using leverage of any kind. Inverse products are also excluded from this list.

Top Performing ETFs Of The Year (excluding leveraged/inverse)

Ticker Fund YTD Return (%)
MJ ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF 46.30
CNXT VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF 38.48
ARKG ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF 37.11
ASHS  Xtrackers Harvest CSI 500 China A-Shares Small Cap ETF 35.02
BCNA  Reality Shares Nasdaq Nexgen Economy China ETF 33.44
XINA SPDR MSCI China A Shares IMI ETF 32.12
PEK  VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC CSI 300 ETF USD 31.71
USOI  Credit Suisse X-Links Crude Oil Shares Covered Call ETN 31.53
IPO  Renaissance IPO ETF 31.42
CHIK  Global X MSCI China Information Technology ETF 31.24
ASHR  Xtrackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF 31.01
KBA  KraneShares Bosera MSCI China A Share ETF 30.38
CNYA  iShares MSCI China A ETF 30.05
CHIS  Global X MSCI China Consumer Staples ETF 30.01
ASHX  Xtrackers MSCI China A Inclusion Equity ETF 29.85
USO  United States Oil Fund LP 29.40
OILX  ETRACS S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN 29.26
PTF Invesco DWA Technology Momentum ETF 28.73
SBIO  ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF 28.57
CHIQ Global X MSCI China Consumer Discretionary ETF 28.53

Note: Data measures total returns for the year-to-date period through March 29.


Easily taking the No. 1 position is the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ). The only U.S.-listed ETF focused on cannabis stocks, investors holding the fund in Q1 were rewarded with a whopping 46.3% gain.

The marijuana ETF is notoriously volatile. The Q1 surge only puts it back to where it was trading last October.

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