Fueled by soaring U.S. stocks, global exchange traded products raked in $70.1 billion in new assets during the first quarter.
That surpassed the previous of $65.5 billion set last year, according to data from BlackRock's (NYSE:BLK) iShares unit, the world's largest ETF sponsor.
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With U.S. equities racing toward record highs, equity-based ETFs accounted for $65.1 billion, or 93 percent, of the first-quarter ETF inflows. Developed market equities dominated on that front, attracting $60.5 billion in new capital, according to iShares. ETFs with U.S. exposure accounted for the bulk of those flows at $37.3 billion.
Other developed markets excluding Japan raked in $11.2 billion. As Japan sought to weaken the yen and engineer higher inflation, benefiting Japanese equities along the way, investors poured $8 billion into ETFs tracking the world's third-largest economy, according to the iShares data.
Despite the struggles of select emerging markets ETFs in the first quarter, that asset class finished the quarter with $4.6 billion in inflows. However, iShares noted the bulk of those flows were accrued in January as investors pulled cash from diversified emerging markets ETFs in February and March.
In March, investors pulled $4.7 billion from emerging markets ETFs, but Mexico proved durable as investors poured $1.2 billion into ETFs tracking Latin America's second-largest economy. The iShares MSCI Mexico Capped Investable Market Index Fund (NYSE:EWW) is the largest Mexico-specific ETF in the world with nearly $2.9 billion in assets under management.
Overall in March, global exchange traded products hauled in $23.5 billion, or more than double the amount seen in the previous month, said iShares. U.S. sector funds attracted $3.4 billion in new assets last month with financials, real estate, health care and consumer cyclicals leading the way, according to the iShares data.
Investors still love dividend and low volatility ETFs. Dividends funds attracted $3 billion just last month while low volatility ETFs have hauled in $4.1 billion on a year-to-date basis. There are now 34 low or minimum volatility ETPs trading globally with a combined $11.2 billion in assets, said iShares.
The top-five U.S.-listed ETFs in terms of year-to-date inflows are the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSE:DXJ), the iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (NYSE:IWM), the iShares S&P 500 Core ETF (NYSE:IVV), the Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (NYSE:BSV) and the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (NYSE:VTI).
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