After today, there are just four trading days left in the third quarter, so there is no time like the present to examine quarterly flows trends into and out of exchange traded funds.
Before getting to that, it must be pointed out that on a year-to-date basis, “investors have redeemed $26 billion in U.S. stock mutual funds this year, while adding $46.6 billion in ETFs that track the very same domestic equities,” notes Nicholas Colas,chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, a global brokerage company based in New York.
Third-quarter ETF inflows currently reside at $48.1 billion, bringing the year-to-date total to $121.4 billion, according to ConvergEx data. That means the ETF industry has its work cut out for it in the fourth quarter to match last year’s record haul of $247.3 billion or to even get to $200 billion of inflows for a third consecutive year. [Record ETF Inflows in 2013]
The other side of that coin is that any year in which we are talking about ETF inflows in the hundreds of billions of dollars can be considered a good year.
Although the S&P 500 is up just 1% in the current quarter, investors, buoyed by the benchmark U.S. index’s ascent above the 2,000 mark have flocked to S&P 500 ETFs. As Colas notes, the top three asset-gathering ETFs this quarter are the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: VOO). Third-quarter inflows to those ETFs total over $15.1 billion. [S&P 500 ETFs Gain Cash]
“The industry is seeing good growth on the product side as well, with 146 new fund launches this year and only 29 closures. Total assets under management are $1,890.2 billion, spread across 1,653 funds and other exchange traded products. Keep in mind that the fourth quarter of any year tends to be the peak period for ETF asset gathering, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the industry got to $2 trillion soon after the end of this year,” said Colas in a note published by ConvergEx Wednesday.
With third-quarter inflows of $1.64 billion, the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY) is the top asset gatherer among sector ETFs while the $1.22 billion that has flowed into the iShares MSCI Hong Kong ETF (NYSEArca: EWH) makes that the best third-quarter asset gatherer among single-country ETFs. [A Rush to Hong Kong ETFs]