The exchange traded products industry has been on a roll this year. Total product count (both ETFs and ETNs) is now over 1,500 while assets under management have jumped to $1.5 trillion. Those are just the totals for the U.S. ETF market.
During the first half of 2013, ETFs experienced solid inflows of $74 billion and the early part of the current quarter followed that pattern with U.S. ETFs raking in $35.3 billion during the quarter’s first three weeks, according to ConvergEx data. [ETF Flows Pull U-Turn as Investors Grow Skittish]
The third-quarter trend has reversed as investors have pulled $7.3 billion from U.S. stocks funds and $3.5 billion from bond ETFs over the past 30 days. ConvergEx noted international equity funds have been pleasant surprises.
“Surprise: International equities are the bright spot over the last 30 days, with $2.8 billion in fresh money at a time investors are otherwise heading for the exit,” said Nick Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx, in a note out Wednesday.
Another segment of the ETF market that has been a surprise over the past month has been inverse and leveraged ETFs.
“They are, for example, 4.6% of 2013YTD flows. In the last month their flows are positive when the industry itself is negative, essentially making them +100% of the total. Put another way, investors have added $1.1 billion in fresh capital to these generally aggressive hedging strategies in the last 30 days,” Colas wrote.
Inflows to inverse and leveraged ETFs could be interpreted as a sign investors are expecting and looking to profit from a market pullback. What is interesting is not just that money is flowing into inverse and leveraged ETFs, but where that money is and is not going.