April ETF Flows: GLD Assets Drop 18.8%

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Investors yanked $6.77 billion out of 'GLD,' the world's biggest gold bullion ETF last month, on the back of the yellow metal's 7.6 percent drop in price that jeopardizes its 12-year bull run. GLD ended April with nearly 19 percent fewer assets than it had at the end of March.

The flip side to gold's woes is that investors embraced equities last month, fueling net ETF inflows of nearly $10 billion, and helping lift total U.S.-listed ETF assets 1.6 percent higher than in the prior month to a record of $1.49 trillion, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.

The upheaval in gold markets caused SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca:GLD) to lose its status as the world's second-biggest ETF. The new No. 2 fund, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca:VWO), climbed from the No. 3 spot it has held for more than two years. VWO lost assets as well, meaning the gold-market dynamics are solely what drove GLD's sharp drop in assets.

'In April, investor confidence in gold was absolutely shattered, and I think the massive outflow from GLD is a reflection of that,' said Sumit Roy, an analyst and managing editor at HardAssetsInvestor.com.

'The QE-gold link has been broken, which is leading to capitulation by a lot of bulls,' Roy said, referring to the way the Federal Reserve's 'quantitative easing' program of bond buying had fueled interest gold.

Thank You, Mr. Bernanke

It's worth noting that many of last month's most popular funds were getting traction in connection with ongoing anxiety surrounding the macroeconomic environment or due to the consequences of loose-money policies courtesy of the Fed and of the Bank of Japan.

Last month's two most popular funds were focused on Japan, which has unleashed a fury of 'quantitative easing' that has rekindled investor interest in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (NYSEArca:EWJ) pulled in $2.72 billion in April, making it the most popular ETF last month.

Its currency-hedged competitor, the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca:DXJ), which protects U.S. investors from the deleterious effects on returns of a weakening yen, meanwhile gathered $1.45 billion. DXJ is the mostly popular U.S.-listed ETF so far this year, and is now a nearly $7.7 billion fund.

The Nos. 3 and 4 ETFs on the 'Top Gainers' table were funds that cherry-pick low-volatility stocks, suggesting that continuing anxiety about the economy and markets isn't too far from the surface.

The iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility Index Fund (NYSEArca:USMV), quickly becoming one of the few blockbuster ETFs to emerge in the past few years, gathered nearly $1 billion in April and ended the month with $3.68 billion.

The PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Fund (NYSEArca:SPLV), a hit from the day it launched about two years ago, also pulled in nearly $1 billion last month, lifting its assets to $5.43 billion.

Wages Of The Yield-Hungry

The last piece of the Fed-linked flows picture was in the realm of fixed-income ETFs, as investors showed both sober and conventional choices on the short end of the yield curve and also more creative risk taking in terms of finding viable income-generating funds in an era of ultra-low bond yields.

On the one hand, the iShares Barclays Short Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEArca:SHV) was the fifth-most-popular fund last month, garnering $892.8 million in inflows, lifting its total assets to $4.19 billion. In the same vein, the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEArca:VCSH) added $633.6 million in new assets, making it a more than $6 billion fund.

On the more daring front, the PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (NYSEArca:BKLN), the first ETF of its kind, serving up adjustable-rate securities, pulled in $734.2 million in new money last month, lifting assets in the fund that was a hit from the start to $3.76 billion.

A similar ETF, the iShares Floating Rate Note Fund (NYSEArca:FLOT), pulled in $681.9 million, and ended the month with $1.57 billion in assets, in another sign investors aim to become crafty in the ways they grapple with the current era of Fed-fueled "financial repression."

Biggest Losers ($, Millions)

Ticker Name Issuer April 2013 Flows April 2013
AUM ($, M)
April 2013
Turnover
GLD SPDR Gold SSgA - 6,774.72 50,915.38 63,818.17
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets Vanguard - 1,554.50 57,693.15 15,829.42
EFA iShares MSCI EAFE BlackRock - 1,240.41 42,373.80 25,261.07
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets BlackRock - 989.96 44,972.50 55,515.13
IWF iShares Russell 1000 Growth BlackRock - 908.82 18,885.22 3,684.24
IAU iShares Gold Trust BlackRock - 766.44 9,234.24 3,537.42
RSP Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight Guggenheim - 629.82 3,718.00 1,343.38
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond BlackRock - 554.52 23,503.63 5,016.01
EWG iShares MSCI Germany BlackRock - 502.60 2,851.00 1,713.94
EWZ iShares MSCI Brazil Capped BlackRock - 485.99 7,463.65 15,671.00

Top Gainers ($, Millions)

Ticker Name Issuer April 2013 Flows April 2013
AUM ($, M)
April 2013
Turnover
EWJ iShares MSCI Japan BlackRock 2,719.37 10,720.06 12,092.92
DXJ WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity WisdomTree 1,452.24 7,696.51 6,035.80
USMV iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility BlackRock 989.54 3,680.13 1,138.39
SPLV PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Invesco PowerShares 923.64 5,431.62 2,123.20
SHV iShares Barclays Short Treasury Bond BlackRock 892.79 4,188.74 1,854.75
BKLN PowerShares Senior Loan Invesco PowerShares 734.23 3,763.08 1,672.43
DIA SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average Trust SSgA 714.92 12,173.14 24,104.94
FLOT iShares Floating Rate Note BlackRock 681.89 1,572.23 987.73
VCSH Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Vanguard 633.55 6,036.54 1,701.47
XLV Health Care Select SPDR SSgA 626.63 7,972.51 9,252.67

Gainer April Flows By Asset Class


Net Flows ($, mm) AUM ($, M) % of AUM
U.S. Equity 8,408.56 724,929.95 1.16%
International Equity 1,165.38 362,123.27 0.32%
U.S. Fixed Income 5,593.41 240,634.46 2.32%
International Fixed Income 1,097.75 28,831.95 3.81%
Commodities -8,076.39 91,032.10 -8.87%
Currency -79.60 2,673.26 -2.98%
Leveraged -228.52 13,546.67 -1.69%
Inverse 1,573.28 19,307.08 8.15%
Asset Allocation 259.33 3,407.90 7.61%
Alternatives 113.73 3,277.24 3.47%
Total: 9,826.94 1,489,763.88 0.66%

ETF Giants ($, Millions)

Ticker Name Issuer April 2013 Flows April 2013
AUM ($, M)
April 2013
Turnover
SPY SPDR S&P 500 SSgA - 86.85 132,152.43 455,677.27
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets Vanguard - 1,554.50 57,693.15 15,829.42
GLD SPDR Gold SSgA - 6,774.72 50,915.38 63,818.17
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets BlackRock -989.96 44,972.50 55,515.13
EFA iShares MSCI EAFE BlackRock - 1,240.41 42,373.80 25,261.07
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 BlackRock -443.97 41,363.13 12,420.11
QQQ PowerShares QQQ Invesco PowerShares 277.00 32,912.25 57,571.93
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market Vanguard 375.43 29,911.55 3,165.44
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond BlackRock -554.52 23,503.63 5,016.01
IWM iShares Russell 2000 BlackRock 67.96 21,322.89 96,887.97

April 2013 League Table

Issuer Net Flows AUM ($, M) % of AUM Turnover
BlackRock 3,974.96 611,293.28 0.65% 381,658.13
SSgA -5,627.59 339,275.25 -1.66% 692,669.67
Vanguard 3,021.89 285,465.56 1.06% 51,778.32
Invesco PowerShares 2,131.24 80,655.20 2.64% 70,007.04
WisdomTree 1,878.21 28,025.89 6.70% 10,021.78
Van Eck -18.24 24,204.19 -0.08% 34,797.80
ProShares 984.11 23,836.73 4.13% 76,083.93
Guggenheim -599.49 14,112.99 -4.25% 6,705.67
PIMCO 1,153.34 12,398.43 9.30% 3,610.15
Charles Schwab 467.66 11,544.22 4.05% 2,009.06
First Trust 475.26 11,193.82 4.25% 2,235.73
ALPS 267.74 6,481.79 4.13% 1,384.85
JPMorgan - 5,808.98 0.00% 1,490.21
Direxion 183.89 5,729.24 3.21% 45,230.52
Barclays Capital 79.68 5,692.14 1.40% 26,328.87
Northern Trust 464.86 4,939.02 9.41% 683.14
ETF Securities -19.73 3,814.70 -0.52% 1,209.49
US Commodity Funds -68.13 2,628.06 -2.59% 7,565.06
UBS 117.04 2,037.79 5.74% 708.48
Global X 191.17 1,953.79 9.78% 688.75
Emerging Global Shares 105.45 1,363.84 7.73% 247.85
Merrill Lynch -39.41 1,179.87 -3.34% 178.02
VelocityShares 273.34 1,139.58 23.99% 10,796.83
AdvisorShares 104.00 822.54 12.64% 345.51
IndexIQ 35.88 739.37 4.85% 113.48
Credit Suisse 91.67 643.70 14.24% 199.42
Pacer Financial 2.05 495.08 0.41% 40.35
GreenHaven -5.56 464.58 -1.20% 79.38
RBS Securities - 333.12 0.00% 64.36
Goldman Sachs - 245.63 0.00% 30.56
Deutsche Bank 26.67 215.06 12.40% 108.96
Exchange Traded Concepts 18.47 208.45 8.86% 55.14
Fidelity 191.18 195.21 97.93% 22.12
Precidian -56.57 187.34 -30.20% 390.89
Arrow Investment Advisors 16.29 78.57 20.74% 25.42
Jefferies - 71.82 0.00% 4.71
Teucrium -4.92 59.65 -8.26% 71.37
Morgan Stanley - 34.32 0.00% 9.20
Columbia - 27.18 0.00% 3.90
Pax World - 25.89 0.00% 1.96
FFCM - 23.19 0.00% 2.89
Huntington Strategy Shares - 20.79 0.00% 1.53
Factor Advisor -1.59 13.76 -11.56% 7.91
Russell - 9.58 0.00% 2.14
CitiGroup - 1.83 0.00% 1.56
BNP Paribas - - - -
Pyxis - - - -

Liquidity Mavens

Ticker Name Issuer April 2013 Flows April 2013
AUM ($, M)
April 2013
Turnover
SPY SPDR S&P 500 SSgA -86.85 132,152.43 455,677.27
IWM iShares Russell 2000 BlackRock 67.96 21,322.89 96,887.97
GLD SPDR Gold SSgA -6,774.72 50,915.38 63,818.17
QQQ PowerShares QQQ Invesco PowerShares 277.00 32,912.25 57,571.93
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets BlackRock -989.96 44,972.50 55,515.13
EFA iShares MSCI EAFE BlackRock -1,240.41 42,373.80 25,261.07
VXX iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN Barclays Capital 86.22 1,174.55 24,892.80
DIA SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average Trust SSgA 714.92 12,173.14 24,104.94
XLE Energy Select SPDR SSgA -194.89 7,449.22 23,334.78
XLF Financial Select SPDR SSgA -292.85 11,677.12 20,423.85

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , ETFs

Referenced Stocks: EWJ , GLD , SHV , VCSH , VWO

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