April was another decent month for global exchange traded products inflows, though the $10.3 billion that flowed into ETFs and ETNs last month was off the pace seen in the first quarter. Still, year-to-date global ETP inflows are up to $79.9 billion, well ahead of last year's record pace of $66.3, according to BlackRock data.
Perhaps in a sign that investors remain apprehensive about stocks and other risky assets, bond ETFs saw $9.5 billion in inflows last month, the best month for that category since May 2012, said BlackRock. Some investors may also be showing signs of concern regarding rising interest rates because short duration funds attracted $5.6 billion last month. BlackRock's (NYSE:BLK) iShares unit is the world's largest ETF sponsor.
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With gold suffering its worst one-day performance in three decades last month, outflows from ETFs such as the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE:GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSE:IAU) totaled $8.7 billion. Year-to-date outflows from gold ETFs are now $17.9 billion, according to BlackRock.
Outflows from GLD mean that ETF is no longer the second-largest in the world by assets behind the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY). The number two spot now belongs to the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE:VWO). Surprisingly, year-to-date inflows to gold miner funds remain slightly positive.
Equity-based ETFs raked in $9.6 billion last month and investors are embracing non-market cap weighted funds.
"Non-Market Cap weighted funds have captured 42% of Equity ETP flows YTD, more than two times their share of Equity assets. Key drivers in this category are Dividend Income with flows of $3.4bn in April - a new record monthly high - and $10.9bn YTD as well as Minimum Volatility with $2.5bn in April and $6.5bn YTD," said BlackRock.
Lead by weakness in diversified ETFs, emerging markets funds saw outflows of $3.5 billion in April, but Japan remains a star at the international level as ETFs tracking the world's third-largest economy hauled in $4.8 billion last month.
A total of 147 new ETPs have come to market this year, but of the 15 top asset gathers, just a third are listed in the U.S. The SPDR Blackstone / GSO Senior Loan ETF (NYSE:SRLN), which debuted on April 3, attracted $155 million last month. Two iShares ETFs, the iShares MSCI USA Size Factor ETF (NYSE: SIZE) and the iShares MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF (NYSE:MTUM), have topped $100 million in AUM in barely more than two weeks of trading.
In terms of year-to-date inflows, the leaders continue to be the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSE:DXJ) at $5.4 billion and the rival iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (NYSE:EWJ) at $4.1 billion. The top bond ETF for year-to-date inflows is the Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (NYSE:BSV) at almost $2.7 billion.
Not surprisingly, some of the largest ETFs have also seen some of the largest outflows. That list includes (in order), GLD, SPY, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (NYSE:EEM), the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (NYSE:LQD) and the iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund (NYSE:TIP).
At the country level, the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped Index Fund (NYSE:EWZ), the iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (NYSE:FXI) and the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (NYSE:EWG) have lost roughly $4.5 billion in assets combined.
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