It was a bad end to July for U.S. stocks and that carried over into Friday, the first trading day of August. After dropping 2.2% in July, the S&P 500 lost almost a third of a percent on Friday.
Of course there is plenty of debate regarding whether the recent declines mean a legitimate correction is coming for stocks or if the dour end to July/start to August is merely a hiccup before the major U.S. indices make new highs.
However, there is some evidence of shifting investor preference when it comes to ETFs and that much was on display this week. That sentiment is particularly true when it comes to the week’s most searched international and sector ETFs on ETF Trends.
Starting with sector ETFs, the group has been undeniably popular this year, attracting nearly $38 billion in new cash through the first half of 2014, but momentum is waning for some sector funds. [Investors Turn Tactical With Sector ETFs]
The Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE), which has spent considerable time as this year’s top asset-gathering and best-performing sector ETF, is this week’s most searched sector fund. That honor is off the dubious variety as XLE slid 4% on the week. [Hot Sector ETFs Cool Off]
The normally defensive Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP), the largest staples ETF, finished July in a tailspin with a 3.5% loss for the month. That was probably the catalyst for elevating XLP to the number two spot among the most searched funds. To be fair, XLP and rival staples got some much-needed help Friday when Procter & Gamble surged 3%.
Speaking of defensive plays, pure dividend ETFs are conspicuous by their absence from this week’s most searched list. That is something that has not happened since we started this endeavor earlier this year.
This week’s most searched income offerings come courtesy of the real estate investment trust (REIT) arena with the Guggenheim Wilshire US REIT ETF (NYSEArca: WREI) taking top honors. Oft-overlooked, WREI is an alternative and rival to the Vanguard REIT ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ), the largest REIT ETF.
As we noted earlier in the week, WREI may not be getting the respect it deserves as it has outpaced VNQ by a decent margin this year. [Remember This REIT ETF]
Sticking with the income from a favored asset class theme, the Direxion Zacks MLP High Income Shares (NYSEArca: ZMLP) makes its first appearance on most searched list.
Moving to international fare, some of the usual suspects reappeared in the top-10 this week, including the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM).