Trends in demand for exchange-traded funds
Exchange-traded funds (or ETFs) of companies based in the U.S. saw strong growth of 33% in 2013, with $1.6 trillion in total assets by year end. Equities continued to lead the market. Equity assets increased by close to $400 billion in 2013 over the previous year. Cash flows into the U.S. ETF market totaled a record $213.8 billion in 2013. Equity ETFs accounted for the lion’s share of the increase, recording $201.5 billion of inflows—72% higher than the previous year.
Let’s take a closer look at demand trends for ETFs to see what you can expect moving forward.
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Increasing demand – equity ETFs
Demand in the U.S. ETF market is largely dominated by equities. Within equities, domestic large-capitalization ETFs and developed market (Japan and Europe) benchmarked ETFs attracted the most flows.
In 2013, ETFs tracking U.S. large-cap indices like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV), and the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) attracted cash flows of $35.7 billion. These ETFs track large-cap U.S. companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) and ExxonMobil (XOM). Other equity segments that collected healthy inflows include the following.
Flat demand – fixed income ETFs
The demand for fixed income ETFs in the U.S. is mostly flat.
Fading demand – commodity, global, and sovereign ETFs
The commodity ETF market is largely driven by the prices of its underlying commodities. For 2013, commodity exchange-traded products lost $30.4 billion in cash outflows. This loss was mainly because of falling gold prices.
Emerging market ETFs experienced outflows of $10.2 billion in 2013 over the previous year. This was mainly due to renewed tensions in emerging and global markets like Ukraine, Iraq, and Brazil.
Sovereign ETFs lost $5.3 billion in outflows. This loss was due mainly to low returns as a result of all-time-low Treasury yields.
You can attribute the decline in flows from the commodity, global, and sovereign ETF spaces to events that negatively affected some sectors’ popularity. But broad-market, sector, and industry-specific equity ETFs continue to bring gains and attract investors worldwide.
Take a closer look at equity ETFs
To learn more about U.S. equity ETFs, check out Market Realist’s U.S. Equity ETF analysis here.