Investors yanked money out of exchange-traded funds in the first month of 2015, led by sizable outflows from the biggest of them all, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY | A-98). Markets were rattled by a do-or-die sort of sentiment surrounding the eurozone's tortured six-year process to prevent deflationary pressures from taking root.
Overall, SPY bled $28 billion last month and net outflows totaled $3.8 billion. Between those outflows and a 3 percent drop in the S&P 500 Index in January, total U.S.-listed ETF assets dropped in the month to $1.983 trillion from $2.136 trillion at the end of the year, according to data compiled by ETF.com.
The outflows in January were in stark contrast to the record inflows in December 2014 of $52.7 billion and an annual inflows record of nearly $243 billion in all of last year. The ETF asset-gathering juggernaut is alive and well, but seems to be pausing for at least this month.
Jitters about the macroeconomy continue to reverberate throughout the economy as investors fretted about what the European Central Bank plans to do to stimulate economic activity in the European Union. The ECB did promise a surprisingly strong dose of quantitative easing, scheduled to get underway in the coming months. The market rallied on the news after flagging earlier in the month.
It's hardly a surprise that an equity strategy that protects U.S. investors from a weakening euro was last month's most popular ETF. The WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ | B-50) pulled in almost $2.9 billion and raised total assets under management in the now-blockbuster fund to more than $9 billion.
Right behind HEDJ in terms of inflows was the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD | A-100), which had inflows of more than $2 billion. Gold prices rose by almost 9 percent in January—a reflection of renewed investor nervousness about the global economy, particularly the eurozone.
Given the anxiety coursing through investment markets, it’s also no surprise that fixed-income ETFs also pulled in significant assets. U.S.-focused bond ETFs gathered upward of $8 billion, with the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG | B-64) pulling in $843 million of that total.
|Asset Class||Net Flows ($M)||AUM ($M)||% of AUM|
|U.S. Fixed Income||7,790.76||295,651.27||2.64%|
|International Fixed Income||277.96||24,185.71||1.15%|
|SPY||SPDR S&P 500||SSgA||-28,030.52||181,725.78||714,645.16|
|QQQ||PowerShares QQQ||Invesco PowerShares||-3,024.22||36,606.32||90,187.09|
|XLF||Financial Select SPDR||SSgA||-2,105.05||17,727.23||22,414.00|
|IVV||iShares Core S&P 500||BlackRock||-1,718.40||66,990.30||26,236.20|
|IWM||iShares Russell 2000||BlackRock||-1,445.40||27,652.68||97,985.10|
|EWJ||iShares MSCI Japan||BlackRock||-1,258.27||13,593.14||7,778.84|
|ACWI||iShares MSCI ACWI||BlackRock||- 993.82||6,330.98||4,116.03|
|EEM||iShares MSCI Emerging Markets||BlackRock||- 969.89||31,384.57||54,271.93|
|DIA||SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average Trust||SSgA||- 839.04||11,806.50||29,966.54|
|XLI||Industrial Select SPDR||SSgA||- 755.52||8,195.94||15,651.37|
|HEDJ||WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity||WisdomTree||2,898.35||9,012.31||5,722.04|
|VOO||Vanguard S&P 500||Vanguard||1,645.79||28,324.41||10,118.75|
|VTI||Vanguard Total Stock Market||Vanguard||1,382.63||50,839.91||8,276.18|
|DBEF||Deutsche X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity ETF||Deutsche Bank||1,177.77||3,006.63||2,063.31|
|USO||United States Oil||US Commodity Funds||1,153.82||2,315.16||12,969.68|
|XLV||Health Care Select SPDR||SSgA||867.72||13,004.34||18,193.07|
|GDX||Market Vectors Gold Miners||Van Eck||843.64||7,485.48||26,719.31|
|HYG||iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond||BlackRock||843.37||15,274.70||13,662.44|
|XOP||SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production||SSgA||696.55||1,676.44||12,192.96|