Return to Me: Cash Flowing Back to Emerging Market ETFs

September 17th at 7:30am by Tom Lydon

The Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) are the two largest emerging markets ETFs by assets. They are also two of the worst offenders when it comes 2013 outflows. Year-to-date, investors have pulled more than $10 billion combined from EEM and VWO.

Amid an emerging markets sell-off induced by slowing economic growth, tumbling currencies and fears that the Federal Reserve will trim its bond-buying activities this year, investors have scampered out of emerging markets ETFs. EEM and VWO are not the only ETFs to suffer sizable outflows. Among the 10 worst offenders on this year’s outflows are EEM, VWO and three more emerging markets funds, including the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWZ) and the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI). [Put Buyers Tap Emerging Markets ETFs]

The outflows trend appears to be reversing. EEM hauled in $2.5 billion in new assets last week, the fund’s best single week accumulation since September 2008, reports Brendan Conway for Barron’s. EWZ raked in $470 million last week while VWO saw inflows of $380 million, according to Barron’s.

At the single-country level, September has been one of the better months this year for emerging markets ETFs. Since the start of the month, EWZ has brought in over $484 million while FXI’s September tally is near $77 million. The iShares MSCI South Korea ETF (NYSEArca: EWY) has seen inflows of $175.6 million, according to IndexUniverse data.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, is perceived as being one of the lower beta, least volatile emerging markets and that trait could explain why investors are embracing EWY. While year-to-date outflows data would appear to indicate that investors have dumping any ETF with the emerging markets label, they have stuck by low volatility funds. For example, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility ETF (NYSEArca: EEMV) has brought in more than $1.8 billion this year. [Some Emerging Markets ETFs Actually Bringing in Cash]

EEMV appeals to investors who want exposure to notoriously volatile emerging markets with a more conservative approach. The tracking index contains equity securities in global emerging markets that in aggregate have lower volatility. Rival funds also have positive flows data this year. [Low Volatility, Dividend ETFs a Bright Spot in Emerging Markets]

iShares MSCI Minimum Volatility ETF

ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

Tickers