Monthly ETF Fund Flows
Aug. ETF Flows: Bond Funds Shine Amid Fear
September 01, 2011
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Investors pumped $1.43 billion into U.S. ETFs last month, and into fixed-income funds in particular, as financial markets went through some of the greatest volatility in years in the wake of S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt. Despite the inflows, market declines pulled ETF assets down 3.9 percent to $1.064 trillion.
The SPDR Barclays Capital 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (NYSEArca: BIL) hauled $2.12 billion, making it the No. 2 fund on IndexUniverse’s “Top Gainers” table, and the leading edge of the trend into both U.S. and international fixed-income funds that totaled more than $4 billion, as our “Asset Class” table shows.
The S&P downgrade, which followed difficult negotiations surrounding an increase to the U.S. borrowing limit as well as a preliminary deal to cut outstanding debt, unleashed extreme volatility in the markets. While stocks staged a comeback in the last week of August, the Dow Jones industrial average still fell 4.4 percent during the month. Still, ETF assets are up 5.5 percent from $1.008 trillion at the end of last year.
One of the surprises in the August flows report was that the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) was, in the end, the most popular fund last month, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse. By yesterday, it had net inflows of $3.35 billion. But around the middle of the month, when volatility was spiking, month-to-date outflows were more than $7 billion.
Some of SPY’s late-month inflows reflected tentative improvement in sentiment as well as the possibility that some investors were using SPY as a hedge against short positions that, for now, are in the red. Some of the creations might also reflect attempts to meet demand for SPY to sell it short, traders said.
Among the other fixed-income funds that made it onto IndexUniverse’s “Top Gainers” table were the iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEArca: SHY) and the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: BND). SHY gathered $727.5 million while BND pulled in $724.5 million.