Exchange traded funds have seen trading activity increase over the years as more investors see the benefits of the investment vehicle. For instance, since ETFs trade on an exchange like a stock, many have utilized the funds to execute quick or tactical positions to capitalize on market turns.
While ETFs accumulate more assets and investor interest, the investment vehicle has become a very liquid tool to access broad market segments, with many ETFs exhibiting high daily volumes.
For instance, according to Morningstar data, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) with a 123.8 million average daily volume is the most actively traded ETF on the market. The SPY tries to reflect the S&P 500 Index. The fund, though, is structured as a unit investment trust and not a regulated investment company like other funds, which prevents SPY from reinvesting dividends, holding securities that are not included in the index, like futures, or engage in securities lending. Nevertheless, traders favor SPY for its deep liquidity. [Comparing Popular S&P 500 ETF Options]
Despite underperforming this year, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) has experienced heavy interest with an average daily volume of 56.9 million shares. EEM tries to reflect the performance of the MSCI Emerging Market Index, a major benchmark for the broad developing market asset category. [Area Emerging Market ETF Investors Must Monitor]
This year has been marked by increased volatility as investors digested the sudden plunge in China’s markets, falling commodity prices and posturing from the Federal Reserve. Consequently, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) showed an average daily volume of 56.6 million shares. VXX tracks CBOE Volatility Index or VIX futures that try to hedge against market turns. During the height of volatility in late August, the VIX surged to financial crisis levels but has since receded to historical norms. As the VIX pulled back, the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca: XIV), a bearish VIX exchange traded note, also experienced an average volume of 22.9 shares.
The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX) has an average volume of 51.0 million shares. While gold prices and miners remain depressed, the relatively high volume suggests that there are still many traders closely playing the market on hopes of turn.
The iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ) saw an average daily volume of 36.8 million shares traded. EWJ, which tracks Japanese equities, has outperformed the U.S. as the government and central bank continue to support the economy through loose fiscal and monetary policies.