Worst Performing ETFs Of 2018

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

Senior ETF Analyst
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)

TickerFund% 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)

TickerFund% 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
TURiShares MSCI Turkey ETF-41.48
PXJ Invesco Dynamic Oil & Gas Services ETF-39.82
CNXTVanEck 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 has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.