End of the Year ETF Performance Report | ETF Trends

U.S. equities and stock exchange traded funds experienced a wild ride this year, but with everything said and done, the markets are closing out 2015 pretty much where they started.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 1.5% over 2015. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite increased 6.5% and the S&P 500 was flat.

The top performing non-leveraged exchange traded products of 2015 include the Market Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF (NYSEArca: CNXT) up 45.9%, WisdomTree Japan Hedged Health Care Fund (NYSEArca: DXJH) up 37.0% and Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 500 China A-Shares Small Cap Fund (NYSEArca: ASHS) up 29.4%.

Despite a major sell-off in the late summer that dragged the country into a bear market, China country-specific ETFs have rebounded and remain the best performing investment this year, notably those that track smaller mainland China A-shares stocks. [Even After a Flop, China ETFs Lead in 2015]

Japanese equities also strengthened on accommodative monetary and fiscal measures that stimulated economic growth. Additionally, the Japanese health care sector stood out, which suggests that the aging demographics in Japan will continue to support medicine and health care services. [A Good Year for Japan ETFs]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.2% in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite increased 9.5% and the S&P 500 added 7.3%.

Over the fourth quarter, the best non-leveraged ETFs include the KraneShares CSI New China ETF (NYSEArca: KFYP) up 28.9%, KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (NasdaqGM: KWEB) up 28.6% and Powershares Golden Dragon China Portfolio (NYSEArca: PGJ) up 28.0%.

Among the best performing areas in Chinese equities, technology companies, notably those that cater toward social media and e-commerce, led the emerging market. [The Case for Emerging Asia ETFs]

At the bottom of the pack, the worst performing non-leveraged ETPs over the past three months include the C-Tracks on Citi Volatility Index ETN (NYSEArca: CVOL) down 48.4%, United States Diesel-Heating Oil Fund (NYSEArca: UHN) down 32.1% and Yorkville High Income MLP ETF (NYSEArca: YMLP) down 31.9%. [Worst Performing ETFs of 2015]

Over December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 1.2%, Nasdaq Composite fell 1.7% and S&P 500 was 1.2% lower.

The equities markets were largely stuck in sideways trading for the last month of the year as tepid economic data kept stocks from breaking out.