Germany as represented by EWG (iShares MSCI Germany, Expense Ratio 0.51%) is the fourth largest fund in terms of assets across U.S. listed “Europe Equity” based ETFs, behind other heavy traders as of late VGK (Vanguard FTSE Europe, Expense Ratio 0.12%), EZU (iShares MSCI EMU, Expense Ratio 0.50%), and HEDJ (WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity, Expense Ratio 0.58%).
The fund also saw a good uptick in options volume yesterday with the April 30 calls trading more than 85,000 times versus small open interest.
EWG is currently trading with a $27 handle so these are clearly out of the money options, but with three months or so until expiration. Trading volume in EWG has been especially heavy in recent sessions, like the aforementioned ETFs presumably as the build-up preceding the ECB rate decision and future path of open market bond purchases.
Year to date, EWG has pulled in more than $150 million in new assets via creation activity, adding to its base of approximately $4.69 billion. EWG maintains a commanding lead over the next biggest “Germany Equity” focused ETF in the space, which would be another iShares product, HEWG (iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Germany, Expense Ratio 0.53%) which has only $174 million in AUM at the moment.
HEWG is also vastly newer to the market, having debuted in January of 2014 when compared to the seasoned veteran EWG (inception was in March of 1996). There are several other much smaller Germany focused Equity alternatives in the space, including FGM (First Trust Germany AlphaDEX, Expense Ratio 0.80%), DBGR (Deutsche MSCI Germany Hedged Equity, Expense Ratio 0.45%), DXGE (WT Germany Hedged Equity, Expense Ratio 0.48%), EWGS (iShares MSCI Germany Small Cap, Expense Ratio 0.59%), QDEU (SPDR MSCI Germany Quality, Expense Ratio 0.30%), GERJ (Market Vectors Germany Small Cap, Expense Ratio 0.55%) and DAX (Recon Capital DAX Germany, Expense Ratio 0.45%).