Worst Performing ETFs Of 2018

The worst performers fell as much as 92% in 2018.

Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
Edited by: Sumit Roy

An awful December pushed the U.S. stock market solidly into the red for 2018. When the ill-fated year came to a close, the S&P 500 found itself down 4.4%, its biggest loss since the financial crisis.

We outlined the performance of the S&P 500, the stock market sectors and all the major asset classes in our top-performing ETFs of 2018 article.

In that story, we included tables of the ETFs that did the very best in a negative year. Here we take a look at the other side of the ledger, the worst-performing.

Short VIX ETPs Demolished

Unsurprisingly, the threshold to make these lists was quite high (or low, depending how you look at it). The all-encompassing list, which is selected from the entire universe of U.S.-listed ETFs, features funds with losses from 56% to 92%.

A product that shorts the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), the ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (SVXY), topped the list. The ETF crumbled in February, pushed lower by the largest-ever one-day increase in the VIX.

Leveraged and inverse ETFs tied to natural gas, crude oil, biotech, regional banks and China also fared poorly in 2018.


Worst-Performing ETFs Of 2018 (all-encompassing)

Ticker Fund % Return
SVXY  ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF -91.75
GASL  Direxion Daily Natural Gas Related Bull 3X Shares -79.80
DGAZ  VelocityShares 3X Inverse Natural Gas ETN -78.49
GUSH  Direxion Daily S&P Oil & Gas Exp. & Prod. Bull 3X Shares -74.28
NAIL  Direxion Daily Homebuilders & Supplies Bull 3X Shares -73.96
OILU  ProShares UltraPro 3x Crude Oil ETF -63.82
UWT  VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN -63.69
WTIU  UBS ETRACS - ProShares Daily 3x Long Crude ETN -63.50
CWEB  Direxion Daily CSI China Internet Index Bull 2X Shares -63.01
USOU  United States 3x Oil Fund -62.08
HOML  ETRACS Monthly Reset 2xLeveraged ISE Exclusively Homebuilders ETN -60.28
KORU  Direxion Daily MSCI South Korea Bull 3X Shares -59.90
LABU  Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3X Shares -57.60
DPST  Direxion Daily Regional Banks Bull 3X Shares -56.75
EXIV  VelocityShares 1X Daily Inverse VSTOXX Futures ETN -56.71


Commodities & EM Swoon

The picture doesn’t look much brighter after stripping out leveraged, inverse and VIX products. This narrower list features ETFs with losses ranging from 31% to nearly 50%.

Commodity-focused funds like the VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (REMX) and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES) were the worst of this bunch.

Several other energy and emerging-market-related ETFs made up the rest of the list.

Worst-Performing ETFs Of 2018 (excluding leveraged/inverse/VIX ETPs)

Ticker Fund % Return
REMX  VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF -49.47
XES  SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF -46.99
OIH  VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF -44.98
PSCE  Invesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETF -42.98
IEZ  iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF -42.46
TUR iShares MSCI Turkey ETF -41.48
PXJ  Invesco Dynamic Oil & Gas Services ETF -39.82
CNXT VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF -39.48
SCIF  VanEck Vectors India Small-Cap Index ETF -37.41
SCIN  Columbia India Small Cap ETF -36.31
ASHS  Xtrackers Harvest CSI 500 China-A Shares Small Cap ETF -35.91
CQQQ  Invesco China Technology ETF -34.77
KWEB  KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF -33.88
AGT  iShares MSCI Argentina and Global Exposure ETF -32.69
AADR  AdvisorShares Dorsey Wright ADR ETF -31.54

Tables data measure total annual returns for 2018.


Email Sumit Roy at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter sumitroy2

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he's worked for 12 years. Before joining the company, Roy was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing pickleball and snowboarding.