The exchange-traded product market reached $1.72 trillion of assets at the end of February, up 12.8% year to date, according to the ETF Landscape report issued by the BlackRock Investment Institute.
Combined inflows of $52.4 billion for January and February were 111% higher than the $24.8 billion recorded during the first two months of 2011, the report said. The market attracted $18.4 billion in net new assets in February, up 69% from a year ago. In January, the market pulled in $ 34.1 billion in net new assets.
The February growth was primarily driven by emerging markets equity inflows of $7.9 billion. The fixed income ETP sector saw $4.4 billion of inflows following a record-setting January with $9.1 billion of inflows for the category, said BlackRock.
BlackRock attributed the growth in emerging market ETPs to a renewed appetite for risk by investors as tensions over the European sovereign debt crisis eased and better-than-expected economic numbers were posted in the U.S.
Not only did the sector see $7.9 billion inflow in February, but it drew in $14.5 billion year to date. This represents the strongest ever start to a year for the category, according to BlackRock, and is in contrast to the $7.5 billion of outflow during the same period last year.
Meanwhile, investment grade and high yield corporate bond ETPs gathered in $3.2 billion and $2.7 billion in February 2012, together representing 134% of net fixed income inflows of $4.4 billion for the month. This ratio exceeded 100% due to outflows of $2.5 billion in the month from government bond ETPs.
Equity ETPs led the field in asset gathering with $9.0 billion, largely driven by the emerging markets equity inflow growth. Within commodities, gold attracted $1.8 billion in February building on January’s inflows of $1.2 billion even though gold prices dropped 2.3% during the month.
BlackRock’s ETP arm, iShares, was the largest global provider of the product with $669.9 billion under management, or 39% of the market. State Street Global Advisors followed with $297.6 billion under management, or 17%. Vanguard was third with $200.1 billion or 12%.
The top five ETPs, according to assets under management, were the SPDR S&P 500 fund, with $99.7 billion under management, and the SPDR Gold Trust, with $70.3 billion, in first and second place.
Both of these funds are managed by State Street. The Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF was third with $55 billion, followed by BlackRock’s iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund at nearly $41 billion and the iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund with $39.2 billion.