ETF flows in the second quarter continued at almost the same torrid pace as they did in the first quarter and seem well on their way to adding $200 billion in new investor funds in 2013, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-based ConvergEx Group. Flows into equity products are 60% of total this quarter to date, lower than the 80% of Q1 2013, he said.
Japan is the white-hot ticket among country-specific investing, with almost 25% of all ETF flows this quarter going into just two such products, Colas said.
Of the $25.9 billion in U.S. listed ETF flows for the first half of the second quarter, $6.3 billion has gone into just two ETFs. Thats 24% of all the fresh capital quarter-to-date into the iShares MSCI Japan Fund (EWJ) and WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ), Colas said. This trend shows the high level of interest that investors have in the Japanese equity market on the back of both its recent strong performance and the unusually aggressive moves from the Bank of Japan on the matter of monetary policy, he said.
Meanwhile, the minimum volatility asset class is clearly still getting attention. A handful of ETFs from major sponsors such as iShares and PowerShares have added over $2 billion in this strategy for the quarter to date, and over $5 billion for 2013 thus far, Colas said.
As reported by MME, another theme this year is investing in dividend-paying equities. For the quarter to date, flows were over $2 billion, Colas said. While several US-oriented funds have raised over $100 million QTD, there are also many ETFs which take the strategy overseas.
Despite the U.S stock market pounding its way higher, investors still want tail-risk hedges in case things go pear-shaped, Colas said. Volatility ETFs, which are structured to rise when the CBOE VIX Index moves higher saw net inflows this quarter to date, to the tune of over $300 million. Ironically, the funds which gain when the VIX declines (and have been profitably investments this quarter) have seen assets walk out the door. And those which have been money-losing trackers of the VIX have seen consistent inflows, he said.