August, typically a month of lethargy on Wall Street, ended with a bang as the month’s final week brought new record highs for U.S. stocks and the best monthly returns since February.
“Since falling to a near three-month low on Aug. 7, the S&P 500 has risen in 12 of the past 16 sessions. It is also closed out its fourth straight weekly advance and sixth positive month of the past seven,” reports Reuters.
All that despite not break on the geopolitical front and that offers a good segue to discussing the most searched ETFs on ETF Trends because the top spot is occupied by what has been a familiar name on these lists this year: The Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX).
Through Thursday, RSX was on pace for its best month of inflows since with August inflows of almost $213. However, even with cash pouring in, RSX slumped 5% on the week and an interesting scenario is emerging with the largest Russia, not only is the cost of hedging long bets on the fund rising, but there are signs some traders with a flair for adventure are taking on added risk with Russia ETFs.
That explains this week’s elevated searches of the Direxion Daily Russia Bull 3x Shares (NYSEArca: RUSL), which has taken in a decent amount of money this month while seeing volume increase. [Bulls Pay up to Hedge Russia ETFs]
Keeping the global theme (don’t worry, we’ll get to U.S. ETFs shortly), the iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWZ) makes another appearance on out most searched list. Like RSX, EWZ’s presence on this week’s list is not surprising.
In the case of the largest Brazil ETF, the catalysts are more positive than they are for its Russian peer as polls continue to show presidential candidate Marina Silva gaining ground on incumbent Dilma Rousseff. On that note, EWZ shareholders should be aware another poll is due out early next week. Brazil bulls will be hoping for more positive news for Silva. [A Silva Rally for Brazil ETFs]
Rounding the most searched international ETFs was the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO). The largest emerging markets ETF allocates a combined 18.6% of its weight to Brazil and Russia.
This week’s most searched U.S.-focused ETFs kept with two familiar, prevalent themes: Dividends and the health care sector. Starting with the latter, nine health care ETFs ascended to new all-time highs on Friday, a group that included the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV).
As if that news was not bad enough for the biotech bears (remember, XLV’s biotech weight is north of 20%), the First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (NYSEArca: FBT) also reached another record high Friday, bring its August gain to roughly 14%. “Ouch,” said the biotech bubble crowd.
FBT got a boost, both in returns and searches, from Sunday’s news that Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche will acquire InterMune (NasdaqGS: ITMN) for $8.3 billion in cash. InterMune was FBT’s largest holding at the time of that announcement. [InterMune Acquisition Lifts Biotech ETFs]