Stock exchange traded funds were set for a lower open on Monday with Greek debt concerns moving back to the forefront. Equities as measured by the S&P 500 traded at their highest levels since last July last week before staggering a bit to close marginally lower than these levels last Friday.
One notable trend is portfolio manager posturing on the bull side of emerging markets for at least the last five weeks, and Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) has been a recipient of an enormous amount of assets via creation flows.
This past week, VWO took in another $1 billion in inflows, and as we had mentioned in previous recaps, these are not “swaps” from say iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (NYSEArca: EEM), which had occurred to some degree last year as well as in 2010, but instead are genuine new inflows from what appear to be managers that are bullish on the emerging economies and willing to ante up their risk appetite early in 2012.
We note that the MSCI Emerging Markets index has rallied over 11% year to date versus the SPX up 4.96%, but over the trailing one year period, the MSCI EM Index is down 7.34% versus the SPX up 3.14%, so there is good reason to believe that some are looking for this gap in performance to continue to close.
In terms of fund flows, PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ) also registered a strong week, taking in about $800 million in new assets on the heels of belwether AAPL (14% weighting in the NDX) earnings and the NDX continues to trade at new multi-year highs.
Similarly, SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) accumulated approximately $800 million in new assets and iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: HYG) again attracted inflows, as we continue to see evidence of managers embracing higher yield fixed income issues via ETFs such as HYG and SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond (NYSEArca: JNK) for instance.
This, coupled with the willingness to be long higher beta names such as emerging markets equities, demonstrates the clear “risk on” mentality that has reigned for the first few weeks of trading thus far in 2012.