The latest figures on the ETF industry are out, and the results are hardly surprising. Total U.S. ETF assets increased to $846.7 billion as of April 30, up from $540.2 billion a year ago and $790.9 billion at the end of 2009. Another solid month from equity markets contributed to the asset growth, but so did strong inflows across the board. Nearly $13 billion flowed into U.S.-listed ETPs in April, bringing year-to-date cash inflows to $20.3 billion.
Of the 20 largest ETF issuers, only Claymore reported a decline in assets between March and April, the result of the unique shuttering of the Shipping ETF (SEA) after failing to achieve sufficient shareholder support (for more information on this story see What Happened To The Shipping ETF?). iShares and Vanguard turned in strong April performances, taking in $6.0 billion and $3.7 billion in cash, respectively. At the opposite end of the spectrum was State Street, which saw cash outflows of $2.4 billion last month (SPY saw outflows of $4.6 billion, dropping total assets to $74.4 billion).
While the larger ETF issuers once again accounted for the majority of cash inflows, a number of smaller firms continued to show impressive asset growth. Cash inflows into Emerging Global Advisors ETFs totaled about 23% of the previous month’s assets. RevenueShares saw inflows of $43 million, or about 10% of March assets, while IndexIQ hauled in $35 million. Grail and Geary Advisors also enjoyed significant growth on the month, as assets increased by about 14% and 29%, respectively.
Charles Schwab continued to expand its ETF footprint, taking in another $229 million, or 24% of AUM at the end of the first quarter.
ETFs In Focus
A look at flows to individual ETFs also reveals some interesting trends. The Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) continues to surge, taking in $1.5 billion in cash on the month. The competing iShares ETF, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), took in $409 million in April. VWO now has assets of $24.4 billion, while EEM has $35.8 billion in assets.
The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) took in $1.1 billion in cash last month, reflecting investor interest in safe havens as the situation in Greece deteriorates. The Barclays TIPS Bond Fund (TIP) saw outflows of $138, perhaps a reflections of subsiding concerns over inflation. TIP has now taken in nearly $1.5 billion in cash in 2010. Grail’s line of active ETFs seems to be gaining some traction; RWG took in $3 million while RPQ took in $2 million.
By asset class, fixed income and international equity ETFs continued to drive growth. Bond ETFs saw $1.7 billion in cash inflows, while global and international equity ETFs attracted $5.7 billion. Inflows to domestic equities of $2.9 billion were especially impressive considering the outflows from SPY mentioned above. Commodity products continue to draw interest as well, with inflows for the month of $1.2 billion (UNG reversed its cash drain, taking in $49 million on the month as assets actually grew in April).
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.