March ETF Flows Surge, Lag 2015

April 01, 2016

[Correction: An article we ran last week on year-to-date ETF asset flows had an incorrect figure for total inflows for the year. This story contains the correct figure of $29.5 billion in inflows for all ETFs as of March 31.]

Asset inflows into U.S.-listed ETFs picked up pace significantly in March, with U.S. and emerging market equity funds leading more than $32 billion in fresh net assets landing into exchange-traded funds during the month. Also present was a clear taste for the safety of gold.

The pace of net creations was a significant jump from February's lull, but it still put year-to-date ETF inflows at only about half the gains seen in Q1 2015, according to FactSet data. At the end of March, net creations sat at $29.5 billion—at the end of Q1 2015, that number was $59 billion in net inflows in the three-month period.

Conflicting Risk Demand In Flows

The creations pace may be notably smaller than a year ago, but what's interesting is that the latest data seem to show a conflict when it comes to investor demand for risk.

As S&P Capital IQ's Todd Rosenbluth said, having funds like iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG | B-68), the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM | B-100) and the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD | A-100) in the same pool is unusual because they are "on different ends of the risk spectrum."

The most popular ETF in March was one that had long been out of favor: EEM. The broad emerging market strategy gathered more than $4.6 billion in assets in one month. The inflows came as EEM rallied some 8.6% in that period.

As an asset class, international equities raked in nearly $4 billion in fresh assets in March, largely due to renewed enthusiasm associated with the emerging market space. The segment has been hit hard in recent years amid a commodity price slump led by oil, a strong U.S. dollar and concerns about the economic health of China.

Emerging Markets Look Cheap To Some

But lately, investors have been returning to the segment looking for value and opportunity, particularly in light of no Fed action since December.

"Emerging markets were in particular favor, with EEM and the iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond (EMB | B-58) having strong inflows as investors embraced risk again due to expectations of delayed Fed action," Rosenbluth said. "Similarly, investors moved out of short-term Treasurys."

The biggest redemptions last month occurred in funds such as the iShares Short Treasury Bond (SHV | A-97), the iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY | A-97) and the SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill (BIL | A-62), even though as an asset class, U.S. fixed income remained popular, with more than $7.4 billion in net inflows in one month.

Total U.S.-listed ETF assets ended March at $2.182 trillion.

Top Gainers For March 2016 And Q1


Ticker Fund Issuer March 2016 Net Flows ($M) March 2016 AUM ($M) % of AUM
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets BlackRock 4,623.19 25,453.47 18.16%
SPY SPDR S&P 500 SSgA 2,919.97 184,424.58 1.58%
JNK SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond SSgA 1,756.73 12,198.61 14.40%
AGG iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond BlackRock 1,743.34 34,867.42 5.00%
GLD SPDR Gold SSgA 1,677.49 32,409.82 5.18%
VEA Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets Vanguard 1,546.31 30,911.88 5.00%
EMB iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond BlackRock 1,331.22 5,761.33 23.11%
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond BlackRock 1,304.56 27,113.21 4.81%
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 BlackRock 1,168.24 71,060.06 1.64%
HYG iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond BlackRock 1,079.20 16,770.13 6.44%


Ticker Fund Issuer Q1 2016
Net Flows ($M)
Q1 2016
AUM ($M)
% of AUM
GLD SPDR Gold SSgA 6,815.27 32,409.82 21.03%
USMV iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility BlackRock 3,544.94 11,271.34 31.45%
AGG iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond BlackRock 3,468.48 34,867.42 9.95%
TLT iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond BlackRock 3,165.45 9,840.45 32.17%
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets BlackRock 2,920.61 25,453.47 11.47%
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 Vanguard 2,672.97 43,387.52 6.16%
JNK SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond SSgA 2,418.91 12,198.61 19.83%
VEA Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets Vanguard 2,276.88 30,911.88 7.37%
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond BlackRock 2,103.14 27,113.21 7.76%
HYG iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond BlackRock 2,052.00 16,770.13 12.24%

Biggest Losers For March 2016 And Q1


Ticker Fund Issuer March 2016
Net Flows ($M)
March 2016
AUM ($M)
% of AUM
SHV iShares Short Treasury Bond BlackRock -1,985.04 3,851.22 -51.54%
SHY iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond BlackRock -1,508.82 11,437.88 -13.19%
EWJ iShares MSCI Japan BlackRock -1,216.48 17,129.30 -7.10%
FXH First Trust Health Care AlphaDEX First Trust -1,189.02 1,259.95 -94.37%
HEDJ WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity WisdomTree -1,105.88 13,732.58 -8.05%
XLV Health Care Select SPDR SSgA -1,011.39 11,518.55 -8.78%
DXJ WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity WisdomTree -887.07 9,794.81 -9.06%
EZU iShares MSCI Eurozone BlackRock -811.77 12,753.56 -6.37%
VGK Vanguard FTSE Europe Vanguard -698.17 13,610.72 -5.13%
BIL SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill SSgA -625.95 2,517.97 -24.86%


Ticker Fund Issuer Q1 2016
Net Flows ($M)
Q1 2016
AUM ($M)
% of AUM
DXJ WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity WisdomTree -3,083.41 9,794.81 -31.48%
QQQ PowerShares QQQ Invesco PowerShares -2,519.25 38,962.77 -6.47%
HEDJ WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity WisdomTree -2,459.38 13,732.58 -17.91%
XLF Financial Select SPDR SSgA -2,190.53 16,004.22 -13.69%
IWF iShares Russell 1000 Growth BlackRock -1,879.03 29,676.49 -6.33%
FXH First Trust Health Care AlphaDEX First Trust -1,866.06 1,259.95 -148.11%
IWM iShares Russell 2000 BlackRock -1,740.33 25,309.63 -6.88%
FBT First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology First Trust -1,735.02 841.06 -206.29%
SPY SPDR S&P 500 SSgA -1,585.04 184,424.58 -0.86%
XLV Health Care Select SPDR SSgA -1,552.81 11,518.55 -13.48%

Asset Class Data For March 2016 And Q1

March 2016
Net Flows ($M) AUM ($M) % of AUM
U.S. Equity 16,237.89 1,195,162.88 1.36%
International Equity 3,968.11 476,027.20 0.83%
U.S. Fixed Income 7,416.67 365,809.53 2.03%
International Fixed Income 2,173.95 32,302.33 6.73%
Commodities 1,714.58 59,909.81 2.86%
Currency 24.49 1,419.20 1.73%
Leveraged -947.66 23,244.53 -4.08%
Inverse 1,462.98 19,398.09 7.54%
Asset Allocation -2.01 5,467.35 -0.04%
Alternatives 808.69 3,555.96 22.74%
Total: 32,857.69 2,182,296.87 1.68%
Q1 2016
Net Flows ($M) AUM ($M) % of AUM
U.S. Equity -5,870.16 1,195,162.88 -0.49%
International Equity -7,738.52 476,027.20 -1.63%
U.S. Fixed Income 30,821.98 365,809.53 8.43%
International Fixed Income 2,615.37 32,302.33 8.10%
Commodities 9,278.48 59,909.81 15.49%
Currency -9.21 1,419.20 -0.65%
Leveraged 74.96 23,244.53 0.32%
Inverse 2,816.98 19,398.09 14.52%
Asset Allocation -706.53 5,467.35 -12.92%
Alternatives 512.94 3,555.96 14.42%
Total: 29,570.38 2,182,296.87 1.36%

March 2016 League Tables

Issuer March 2016 Net
Flows ($,m)
March 2016
AUM ($, mm)
% of AUM Q1 Net Flows
($,m)
BlackRock 14,566.43 850,362.00 1.71% 15,786.77
Vanguard 8,815.20 506,073.51 1.74% 16,754.36
SSgA 5,677.67 429,591.20 1.32% 5,093.81
Invesco PowerShares 2,325.94 94,648.10 2.46% -1,992.04
WisdomTree -1,564.43 44,306.23 -3.53% -5,364.96
Charles Schwab 1,245.86 42,893.16 2.90% 2,668.83
First Trust 434.99 36,095.31 1.21% -4,917.84
Guggenheim 121.88 26,988.98 0.45% -1,338.92
ProShares 1,112.86 25,712.39 4.33% 2,641.56
Van Eck 173.97 21,535.35 0.81% 274.51
Deutsche Bank -455.42 18,739.57 -2.43% -853.01
PIMCO 250.72 11,349.12 2.21% 305.73
ALPS 91.07 9,756.89 0.93% 269.11
Direxion 68.35 9,112.97 0.75% 277.37
Northern Trust -63.95 8,362.66 -0.76% 392.83
Barclays Capital 763.35 6,406.60 11.92% 167.78
UBS 39.97 5,003.91 0.80% 269.03
US Commodity Funds -532.62 4,961.40 67.76% 849.82
Fidelity -81.47 3,607.06 -2.26% -134.34
JPMorgan 15.34 3,564.04 0.43% 105.86
VelocityShares -370.60 3,265.97 -11.35% 580.70
Global X 2.53 3,007.84 0.08% -138.82
ETF Securities 39.16 2,063.07 1.90% 77.43
US Bancorp 2.77 1,649.81 0.17% 19.93
IndexIQ -21.97 1,512.74 -1.45% -57.31
Credit Suisse -0.33 1,477.95 -0.02% 26.60
Millington Securities Inc -20.45 1,380.18 -1.48% -77.47
Goldman Sachs 175.62 1,229.94 14.28% 281.13
AdvisorShares 13.51 1,112.94 1.21% 31.62
OppenheimerFunds -17.42 914.82 -1.90% -97.59
Emerging Global Shares -21.01 872.18 -2.41% -69.89
ETF Managers Group -2.60 789.06 -0.33% -164.16
Victory Capital Management 19.55 414.74 4.71% 50.15
Virtus 1.24 351.39 0.35% 28.62
Swedish Export Credit -16.46 350.26 -4.70% -44.42
Exchange Traded Concepts 3.62 315.17 1.15% 7.60
Highland Capital Management -2.93 298.24 -0.98% -17.38
Cambria 0.35 289.02 0.12% -24.97
FQF Trust 52.91 213.44 24.79% 144.91
KraneShares 7.87 201.85 3.90% -13.83
CitiGroup 0.00 201.68 0.00% 0.00
Franklin ETF Trust 0.00 193.86 0.00% 4.90
John Hancock 1.28 132.63 0.96% 1.32
Arrow Investment Advisors -2.57 103.15 -2.49% -13.61
Merk 0.03 99.02 0.03% 8.10
Teucrium 4.15 98.68 4.20% 0.76
Alpha Architect 2.30 86.47 2.66% 13.93
Lattice Strategies 2.47 82.06 3.01% 5.80
US Global Investors 5.07 54.87 9.25% 5.17
Recon Capital 3.33 53.60 6.21% 7.60
Morgan Stanley 0.00 45.65 0.00% 0.00
Reality Shares -2.98 44.61 -6.68% -0.66
Academy Funds 0.00 42.16 0.00% -14.92
The Principal Financial Group 0.00 40.10 0.00% -1.74
ARK 0.00 40.05 0.00% 0.00
Calamos Investments 0.00 26.43 0.00% 0.00
Legg Mason 6.63 25.22 26.29% 6.63
Montage Managers 0.00 20.03 0.00% 0.00
CSOP -3.89 17.09 -22.79% -7.07
Diamond Hill 0.00 16.43 0.00% 1.09
Renaissance Capital -1.85 15.35 -12.04% -4.46
Royal Bank of Canada 0.42 13.23 3.18% -3.35
Columbia 0.00 13.21 0.00% 0.00
TrimTabs Asset Management -1.07 12.97 -8.23% -1.07
Huntington Strategy Shares 0.00 10.89 0.00% -1.74
LocalShares 0.00 10.57 0.00% 0.00
USCF Advisers 0.00 5.32 0.00% 0.00
HSBC 0.00 5.02 0.00% 0.00
Highland Capital -6.70 2.53 -265.06% -6.70
Horizons 0.00 1.65 0.00% -2.79
Elkhorn 0.00 1.24 0.00% 0.00
Janus - - - -
Pacer Financial - - - -
AccuShares - - - -

Contact Cinthia Murphy at [email protected].

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