Investors poured more than $18 billion into U.S. ETFs in March and over $54 billion in the entire first quarter, as DXJ, WisdomTree's currency-hedged Japan ETF, was the most popular ETF so far in 2013—a year in which inflows are on pace to easily top last year's record of $188 billion.
Globally, the ETF market raked in a record $70.1 billion in fresh assets in the first quarter, with equities accounting for 93 percent of global flows, according to BlackRock data.
The WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: DXJ) hauled in $1.1 billion in March and about $4 billion in the first quarter, as total U.S.-listed ETF assets under management rose to almost $1.467 trillion—just shy of an all-time record, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.
Total assets at the end of the quarter were 3 percent higher than at the end of February, nearly 9 percent above year-end 2012 levels and more than 21 percent over the $1.21 trillion in total AUM a year ago.
The quarterly asset haul of $54.73 billion looks, at first blush, to be the third-biggest quarter of inflows in the 20-year history of ETFs. Last year's third quarter was the all-time high, with creations of almost $60 billion, while the nearly $56 billion in 2012's first quarter appears to be No. 2 in the pantheon of top flows.
WisdomTree's DXJ is easily the top ETF story so far in 2013, as increasing numbers of U.S. investors flock to the fund as a way to take advantage of Japan's rising stock market while steering clear of the declining yen. Japanese equities have received a shot in the arm from pledges by Japan's new leadership to weaken the yen to help spur growth there.
The renewed excitement about Japanese stocks spread to the ETF market's biggest equities fund, the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWJ). It pulled in $830.6 million in March and $1.45 billion in the entire first quarter.
The flows into DXJ helped propel New York-based WisdomTree to the No. 6 spot of the U.S. ETF industry league table, with total assets of $25.1 billion. It surpassed Bethesda, Md.-based ProShares, which ended in the No. 7 spot, with just over $23.58 billion in assets.
The top ETF in inflows for the month of March was the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV), which pulled in $2.27 billion. It ended the month and quarter with assets of $41.03 billion.
March 2013 Top Gainers ($, Millions)
|Ticker||Name||Issuer||Flows||AUM ($, M)||Turnover|
|IVV||iShares Core S&P 500||BlackRock||2,266.16||41,031.36||13,580.22|
|BSV||Vanguard Short-Term Bond||Vanguard||1,503.31||11,531.18||2,495.94|
|IWM||iShares Russell 2000||BlackRock||1,335.14||21,399.91||60,345.36|
|IWF||iShares Russell 1000 Growth||BlackRock||1,121.42||19,407.53||3,951.34|
|DXJ||WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity||WisdomTree||1,104.24||5,632.64||2,609.03|
|SSO||ProShares Ultra S&P 500||ProShares||968.51||2,436.23||9,901.78|
|EWJ||iShares MSCI Japan||BlackRock||830.64||7,275.60||6,054.52|
|USMV||iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility||BlackRock||796.63||2,606.01||732.92|
|SPY||SPDR S&P 500||SSgA||670.49||129,835.33||360,998.47|
2013 First-Quarter Most Popular Funds
|WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity||WisdomTree||3,946.88||5,632.64||7,649.53|
|iShares Core S&P 500||BlackRock||2,358.67||41,031.36||37,185.60|
|Vanguard Short-Term Bond||Vanguard||2,230.97||11,531.18||5,723.09|
|Vanguard Total Stock Market||Vanguard||2,154.40||29,037.49||10,479.93|
|iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility||BlackRock||1,680.53||2,606.01||1,318.12|
|Vanguard S&P 500||Vanguard||1,528.79||8,855.10||7,471.62|
|PowerShares Senior Loan||Invesco PowerShares||1,500.85||3,014.33||3,564.24|
|iShares MSCI Japan||BlackRock||1,453.27||7,275.60||20,774.34|
|Financial Select SPDR||SSgA||1,380.13||11,677.49||54,386.49|
March 2013 Assets By Class
|March 2013 Assets By Class||Net Flows ($, mm)||AUM ($, mm)||% of AUM|
|International Equity||- 1,702.71||353,550.63||-0.48%|
|U.S. Fixed Income||5,250.21||233,381.44||2.25%|
|International Fixed Income||- 29.96||27,031.22||-0.11%|
2013 First-Quarter Flows By Assets
|Q1 2013 Flows By Assets||Net Flows ($, mm)||AUM ($, mm)||% of AUM|
|U.S. Fixed Income||6,798.58||233,381.44||2.91%|
|International Fixed Income||1,711.27||27,031.22||6.33%|
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