XLF Races for Inflows "Bronze Medal"

BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), the world’s largest asset manager and parent company of iShares, the larest ETF sponsor, released its monthly flows report for July on Monday and the data indicate a heated battle for third place among year-to-date ETF inflows.

The SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) and the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: DXJ) are locked in a tight battle for the top spot with SPY holding a nearly $250 million edge over DXJ, according to the BlackRock data. The distance in dollar terms between second-place DXJ and the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ), in third place, is significant at over $3.5 billion, but the battle for third is more compelling.

As we noted last month, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is making a run at the 2013 inflows “bronze medal.” With the financial services sector standing as the only group to deliver impressive second-quarter earnings growth and the sector getting close to toppling technology for the largest weighting within the S&P 500, investors have been pouring cash into bank ETFs. [Citigroup Earnings Drive Bank ETFs]

Among U.S. sector funds, financial services ETFs attracted $2.3 billion in assets last month, bringing the year-to-date total to $7.8 billion, according to BlackRock. That is nearly twice the $4 billion that has gone into technology funds this year. XLF is leading the charge with $4.915 billion in year-to-date inflows.[XLF Sets Sights on Japan ETFs for Outflows Crown]

That puts XLF just behind the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) in the race for fourth place and both funds have a legitimate shot at catching at EWJ for third. One reason IWM may be attracting new assets is because the fund has recently made a string of new all-time highs. [Small-Cap ETFs Powering Stocks to Record Highs]