Most Popular & Most Hated ETFs of 2016

By Tom LydonETFsFOXBusiness

The year 2016 has been filled with great oscillations as investors were taken on a wild ride, with some markets and exchange traded fund standing out from the rest.

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There are now 1,960 U.S.-listed exchange traded products with $2.550 trillion in net assets under management after the ETP industry attracted $283 billion in net inflows for the year.

Among the most popular ETFs, investors still threw billions into S&P 500-related offerings. For example, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) saw $24.4 billion in net inflows, iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) attracted $13.5 billion and Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEArca: VOO) added $11.4 billion, according to XTF data. The S&P 500 ETFs saw heavy inflows over the past month, with SPY bringing in $15.4 billion, as investors looked to a pro-growth environment ahead under the new Donald Trump administration.

The broad bond play, iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: AGG), also saw $11.2 billion in inflows.

Developed market ETFs, including Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VEA) added $11.0 billion and iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: IEFA) attracted $6.2 billion.

Despite the sell-off in recent months, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) still managed to bring in $7.4 billion in net inflows for the year. GLD saw $4.8 billion in outflows in the fourth quarter as the U.S. dollar strengthened and the Federal Reserve embarked on the path of interest rate hikes.

The emerging markets have also been a popular play this year after developing country stocks underperformed developed markets over the past few years. The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) brought in $6.8 billion and iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: IEMG) experienced $7.3 billion in inflows.

Lastly, the iShares TIPS Bond ETF (NYSEArca: TIP) saw $6.8 billion in net inflows for the year as traders sought to hedge against a rising inflationary pressures, especially with President-elect Trump promising many expansionary policies.

On the other hand, European markets experienced heavy outflows, especially after the so-called Brexit vote. The WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: HEDJ) experienced $7.8 billion in outflows year-to-date while the non-hedged iShares MSCI EMU ETF (NYSEArca: EZU) lost $6.7 billion and Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK) shrunk by $3.5 billion.

The WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: DXJ) saw $5.7 billion in outflows and iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ) lost $4.3 billion after weak oil prices, uncertainty over China and a negative yield weighed on the Japanese markets.

The Deutsche X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBEF), which includes large weights in European and Japanese stocks, also shrunk by $5.4 billion.

The iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI) also made it to the top 10 list, losing $2.3 billion, as the weakening yuan currency and concerns over the economy caused investors to pull out of the emerging market.

The PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), which tracks the tech heavy Nasdaq-100 Index, shrunk by $2.2 billion. While the Nasdaq-related ETF attracted inflows over the past few months, QQQ and other growth-related ETFs were pummeled during the early months of the year as investors shifted into the value style and sold off growth.

The sector-specific First Trust Health Care AlphaDEX (NYSEArca: FXH) and First Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXG) saw $2.3 billion and $2.2 billion in outflows, respectively.

For more information on ETF flows, visit our ETF performance reports category.

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