Suddenly, investors are giving exchange traded funds tracking the financial services sector the same treatment they are giving gold ETFs. That is to say, investors are departing bank ETFs in significant fashion.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) last week suffered its biggest outflows since 2009,reports Madeline McMahon for Bloomberg. Over the past week, XLF, the largest financial services ETF, has bled $888.3 million in assets. The $17.5 billion fund, also one of the largest U.S. sector ETFs, is home to stocks such as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Dow component J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM).
XLF is far from being the only financial services ETF offender when it comes to lost assets over the past week. The Vanguard Financials ETF (NYSEArca: VFH) is lighter by $111 million over the past week while the First Trust Financial AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXO) has lost almost $21 million in assets. [Bank ETFs Stung by Outflows]
Departures from financial services ETFs could be a sign that investors have tired of waiting for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and do not expect the central bank to do so anytime soon.
Although FXO is not the largest financial services ETF, the $607.7 million fund features a 38.1% weight to rate-sensitive insurance companies, highlighting the ETF’s utility in rising rate environments because higher interest rates lift net income for insurance providers. The ETF jumped 40.6% last year as 10-year Treasury yields spiked. [Insurance ETFs Wait on Higher Rates]