New Record High For Flows As Real Estate Gathers Assets

Investors added $10.5 billion into U.S.-listed ETFs, sending 2016's flows total into record territory.

Senior ETF Analyst
Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
Edited by: Sumit Roy

Flows into U.S.-listed ETFs leaped into record territory again this week, as investors remained in an optimistic mood ahead of the long Christmas weekend. Inflows into exchange-traded funds totaled $10.5 billion in the week ending Thursday, Dec. 22, according to FactSet. That puts year-to-date inflows at $277.6 billion, the most ever for a single year.

U.S. equity ETFs continued to garner the bulk of the inflows, taking in $5.8 billion during the week. Following behind were international equity ETFs, with inflows of $3.1 billion. During the week, the S&P 500 hovered just below its record highs, ultimately ending the period where it began on light trading volume.

Meanwhile, U.S. fixed-income ETFs saw inflows of their own totaling about $1.8 billion, while international fixed-income ETFs picked up $210 million. Bond prices edged slightly higher week-over-week as the dramatic sell-off in Treasurys took a pause.

Commodity ETFs were the biggest losers of the week. Outflows for the segment totaled just over $650 million.

Real Estate ETFs Gather Assets
As has been typical during the last several weeks, broad, big-name ETFs took in the most investor money this week. The SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) topped the list, with inflows of $1.3 billion. The iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) and the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA) rounded out the top three, with inflows of more than $700 million apiece.

Two real estate funds also made the top 10. The Vanguard REIT Index Fund (VNQ) and the iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF (IYR) saw creations of $569 million and $532 million, respectively. The pause in the recent spike in interest rates was a reprieve for the rate-sensitive real estate sector. 

Likewise, the dip lower in interest rates was a positive for fixed-income ETFs (bond prices and rates move inversely). The iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG), the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) and the PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN) all had inflows of just under $500 million each.

Midcap ETF The Biggest Loser
On the flip side, the Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund (VO) was the biggest loser of the week, with outflows of $1.2 billion. Midcaps had a great run higher since the U.S. presidential election; thus, these flows are likely a reflection of profit-taking more than anything.

The only two fixed-income ETFs on the the top ouflows list were the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) and the SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK), with redemptions of $927 million and $290 million, respectively.

At the same time, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) continued to bleed assets, losing $646 million during the week. Gold prices were little changed in the period, around the $1,135/oz level.

The ALPS Sector Dividend Dogs ETF (SDOG) and the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI) were two other funds of note on the list, with outflows of $448 million and $192 million, respectively.

For a full list of this week's top inflows and outflows, see the tables below:

Top 10 Creations (All ETFs)

TickerNameNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($, mm)AUM % Change
SPYSPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust1,346.95227,632.330.60%
EFAiShares MSCI EAFE ETF727.3458,949.121.25%
VEAVanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF715.8539,897.201.83%
QQQPowerShares QQQ Trust706.8742,592.181.69%
VNQVanguard REIT Index Fund569.0332,878.191.76%
IVViShares Core S&P 500 ETF535.5991,685.730.59%
IYRiShares U.S. Real Estate ETF531.674,092.3014.93%
HYGiShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF499.0518,233.212.81%
TLTiShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF494.715,531.329.82%
BKLNPowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio465.357,891.926.27%

Top 10 Redemptions (All ETFs)

TickerNameNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($, mm)AUM % Change
VOVanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund-1,223.6016,880.12-6.76%
LQDiShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF-926.7226,838.46-3.34%
GLDSPDR Gold Trust-645.6230,045.65-2.10%
SDOGALPS Sector Dividend Dogs ETF-448.311,818.26-19.78%
XLYConsumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund-313.9010,996.88-2.78%
JNKSPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF-290.0911,738.05-2.41%
VBVanguard Small-Cap Index Fund-285.2516,452.11-1.70%
VOTVanguard Mid Cap Growth Index Fund-278.043,613.30-7.15%
FXIiShares China Large-Cap ETF-192.483,182.69-5.70%
VBRVanguard Small Cap Value Index Fund-190.4510,322.00-1.81%

ETF Weekly Flows By Asset Class

 Net Flows ($, mm)AUM ($, mm)% of AUM
U.S. Equity5,800.021,489,311.390.39%
International Equity3,139.73504,892.730.62%
U.S. Fixed Income1,759.94404,965.880.43%
International Fixed Income207.2839,563.280.52%
Asset Allocation130.006,675.631.95%

Top 10 Volume Surprises, Funds >$50 mm AUM

TickerNameAverage Volume
(30 Day)
1 Week Average
% of Average
PIOPowershares Global Water Portfolio23,67976,528323.19%
SHESPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF1,7384,546261.51%
ESGDiShares MSCI EAFE ESG Select ETF8612,113245.48%
PGJPowerShares Golden Dragon China Portfolio30,89588,895287.73%
JPEUJPMorgan Diversified Return Europe Equity ETF1,2402,025163.24%
MLPZETRACS 2xMonthly Leveraged S&P MLP Index ETN Series B135462342.40%
CDLVictory CEMP US Large Cap High Div Volatility Wtd Index ETF22,41347,370211.35%
IBMHiShares iBonds Sep 2019 Term Muni Bond ETF34,59373,660212.93%
CATHGlobal X S&P 500 Catholic Values27,75538,278137.92%
IBMGiShares iBonds Sep 2018 Term Muni Bond ETF36,50099,615272.92%


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.


Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for, 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, 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, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of’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,’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.