ETF Investors Ride Market Volatility

Investors didn't completely jump ship as the market plunged, but they trimmed risk exposure noticeably.

Reviewed by: Cinthia Murphy
Edited by: Cinthia Murphy

In one of the most turbulent weeks global markets have seen in recent years, it's no surprise investors yanked assets from equity ETFs, particularly international equity funds, which bled more than $6.2 billion in five days.

Emerging market ETFs were directly in the line of fire as concerns about slowing global growth and an uncertain outlook for China mounted. The two largest ETFs in the segment, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO | B-88) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM | B-100), saw redemptions of more than $1 billion each.

The outflows came as the Chinese stock market plunged some 15 percent in the five days ended Thursday, Aug. 27. Other markets were also hit. Japan slipped some 7 percent in a week; European stocks dropped about 2 percent, while the S&P 500 plunged nearly 10 percent at one point before bouncing back to end the five-day stretch with a 2.3 percent loss.

A roster of U.S. sector ETFs and large-cap funds was also among the week's largest redemptions.

But considering the amount of volatility investors faced as global markets corrected this week, combined equity ETF outflows of about $9 billion aren't all that bad, especially considering equity mutual funds saw their biggest weekly redemptions in nearly eight months, according to CNBC.

If ETF investors rode the volatility relatively well, they tightened their grip on the safety of U.S. fixed income—a segment that received $3.5 billion in fresh inflows. The most popular bond fund in the past five days was the iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF (SHV | A-96), which gathered more than $1 billion in fresh net assets. That's a 45 percent increase in its asset base.

Top 10 Creations (All ETFs)

TickerNameNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($, mm)AUM % Change
IWMiShares Russell 20001,118.7925,537.344.58%
SHViShares Short Treasury Bond1,036.543,308.1045.63%
SPYSPDR S&P 500976.70168,328.970.58%
XIVVelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short Term ETN862.461,154.14295.68%
XLEEnergy Select SPDR760.2211,835.596.86%
VOOVanguard S&P 500552.8234,020.211.65%
SVXYProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures459.10569.76414.87%
BILSPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill452.421,896.5031.33%
SHYiShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond398.8011,675.363.54%
IVViShares Core S&P 500350.9767,160.670.53%

Top 10 Redemptions (All ETFs)

TickerNameNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($, mm)AUM % Change
VWOVanguard FTSE Emerging Markets-1,067.7439,074.99-2.66%
EEMiShares MSCI Emerging Markets-1,036.7720,824.79-4.74%
XLFFinancial Select SPDR-942.6918,008.01-4.97%
XLVHealth Care Select SPDR-693.5814,391.86-4.60%
RSPGuggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight-543.999,854.04-5.23%
MDYSPDR S&P MidCap 400-497.7015,011.25-3.21%
XLYConsumer Discretionary Select SPDR-445.1910,260.07-4.16%
XLKTechnology Select SPDR-421.8911,420.14-3.56%
XLIIndustrial Select SPDR-349.066,279.87-5.27%
IVWiShares S&P 500 Growth-338.1712,596.65-2.61%

ETF Weekly Flows By Asset Class

Net Flows ($, mm)AUM ($, mm)% of AUM
U.S. Equity-3,789.841,087,601.82-0.35%
International Equity-6,219.82467,924.35-1.33%
U.S. Fixed Income3,570.40307,780.641.16%
International Fixed Income-133.7325,550.84-0.52%
Asset Allocation-65.605,429.51-1.21%

Top 10 Volume Surprises, Funds >$50 mm AUM

TickerNameAverage Volume
(30 Day)
1 Week Average
% of Average
BTALQuantShares U.S. Market Neutral Anti-Beta86,424491,411568.61%
EXTWisdomTree Total Earnings12,82269,673543.38%
HEWIiShares Currency Hedged MSCI Italy96,832513,426530.22%
ITFiShares Japan Large-Cap50,760267,973527.93%
IQDYFlexShares International Quality Dividend Dynamic24,869130,024522.84%
AGZDWisdomTree Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Zero Duration52,276253,099484.16%
BLVVanguard Long-Term Bond254,7191,197,374470.08%
LEMBiShares Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond99,084460,607464.86%
PWCPowerShares Dynamic Market6,66428,718430.95%
CEWWisdomTree Emerging Currency35,464152,740430.69%

Top 10 Weekly Performers, Excluding Leverage/Inverse Funds and <1,000 Shares Traded

TickerNameWeekly PerformanceWeekly VolumeAUM ($, mm)
CVOLC-Tracks Citi Volatility ETN49.75%2,717,7295.12
VXXiPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN40.24%854,429,2981,377.11
VIIXVelocityShares VIX Short Term ETN39.57%2,234,36813.52
VIXYProShares VIX Short-Term39.24%25,660,001143.22
CCXWisdomTree Commodity Currency27.29%1,9106.27
VXUPAccuShares Spot CBOE VIX Up Shares23.87%1,343,7371.40
VIIZVelocityShares VIX Mid Term ETN14.38%21,7610.67
VIXMProShares VIX Mid-term13.57%414,15228.89
VXZiPath S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures ETN13.51%5,458,30853.54
AMZAInfraCap Active MLP6.57%197,30120.63

Bottom 10 Weekly Performers, Excluding Leverage/Inverse Funds and <1,000 Shares Traded

TickerNameWeekly PerformanceWeekly VolumeAUM ($, mm)
ASHSDeutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 500 China-A Shares Small Cap ETF-19.10%868,91933.15
SGDJSprott Junior Gold Miners-16.98%131,34520.13
SILJPureFunds ISE Junior Silver (Small Cap Miners/Explorers)-14.60%49,9313.53
CNXTMarket Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext-14.26%1,004,27330.21
SGDMSprott Gold Miners-13.26%472,103111.64
RINGiShares MSCI Global Gold Miners-12.95%908,91744.72
GDXMarket Vectors Gold Miners-12.83%497,309,7174,538.29
GDXJMarket Vectors Junior Gold Miners-12.83%93,391,6401,201.98
PSAUPowerShares Global Gold and Precious Metals-12.53%249,59517.37
GLDXGlobal X Gold Explorers-12.41%269,76824.73

Top 10 YTD Performers

TickerNameYTD PerformanceWeekly PerformanceAUM ($, mm)
RODIBarclays Return on Disability ETN0.75-1.0026.47
DXJHWisdomTree Japan Hedged Health Care0.280.6314.43
BBPBioShares Biotechnology Products0.262.5929.61
CNXTMarket Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext0.23-7.8730.21
XBISPDR S&P Biotech0.213.372,323.49
PSCHPowerShares S&P SmallCap Health Care0.18-0.20271.69
EIRLiShares MSCI Ireland Capped0.182.26131.77
EDENiShares MSCI Denmark Capped0.171.1048.74
DXJFWisdomTree Japan Hedged Financials0.162.4729.64
MOMQuantShares U.S. Market Neutral Momentum0.16-0.131.33

Bottom 10 YTD Performers

TickerNameYTD PerformanceWeekly PerformanceAUM ($, mm)
GAZiPath Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex Total Return ETN-0.45-3.5110.79
FCGFirst Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas-0.396.87183.64
BRFMarket Vectors Brazil Small-Cap-0.390.5573.60
EWZSiShares MSCI Brazil Small-Cap-0.39-1.1026.98
PSCEPowerShares S&P SmallCap Energy-0.392.8335.39
KOLMarket Vectors Coal-0.381.4560.38
JJNiPath Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN-0.38-1.616.38
ICOLiShares MSCI Colombia Capped-0.37-2.7113.28
BRXXEGShares Brazil Infrastructure-0.370.449.50
PLTMFirst Trust ISE Global Platinum-0.37-5.916.21

Disclaimer: All data as of 6 a.m. Eastern time the date the article is published. Data is believed to be accurate; however, transient market data is often subject to subsequent revision and correction by the exchanges.

Cinthia Murphy is head of digital experience, advocating for the user in all that does. She previously served as managing editor and writer for, specializing in ETF content and multimedia. Cinthia’s experience includes time at Dow Jones and former BridgeNews, covering commodity futures markets in Chicago and Brazil equities in Sao Paulo. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.