Thanks to stagnant interest rates and lingering worries over the Eurozone and other developed markets, the exchange traded fund market in February grew 3.9%, or more than $44 billion assets, over the previous month, according to a snapshot report released by State Street Global Advisors.

The market consisted of 1,231 ETFs—with assets totaling $1.18 trillion— which were managed by 36 ETF managers as of February 29,  according to SSgA’s ETF Snapshot.

“Because of the focus on dividend yields and income generation, ETFs have become the go-to vehicle for a lot of investors and advisors,” Kevin Quigg, Global Head of ETF Strategy and Consulting at State Street Global Advisors told Money Management Executive.

The top three managers in the US ETF marketplace were: BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard. As of February, BlackRock managed slightly more than $501 billion in assets in 269 funds. State Street managed $282.5 billion in 108 funds, while Vanguard handled just under $200 billion in 64 funds.

The ETF sector with the largest amount of assets under management was large cap, with $196.2 billion in assets managed by 22 funds. A close second was fixed income, with $194.5 billion managed by 151 funds. Meanwhile, the international emerging market sector had slightly more than $141 billion in assets managed by 123 funds.

Flows into ETFs nearly topped $12 billion in February, according to the snapshot. The international emerging market category had the most significant inflows with $4.6 billion entering the category. The large cap category had $4.8 billion in outflows, a reverse from the $4.8BN in inflows it had in January.

“People are starting to get more into the emerging market, not just from an exposure perspective. They are really peeling open the onion and getting a better understand of this market and its possibilities,” said Quigg.

Not only are more investors allocating more money in emerging markets, according to Quigg, but they are looking for broader coverage throughout the market. For example, he said more investors are thinking, “Maybe it makes sense to allocate assets to the smaller part of the emerging markets universe in order to have full exposure.”

 In terms of performance, developed and emerging markets increased 5.7% and 6% for the month, respectively. Domestic large cap, mid cap and small cap markets were all positive, gaining 4.3%, 4.5% and 2.1%. The US Aggregate was flat and the US Treasury was slightly negative while the US Corporate Bond market was slightly positive in February. Commodities rose 6.1%.

Tommy Fernandez writes for Money Management Executive.



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