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Monthly ETF Inflows Reach Record High in January: State Street

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Monthly money flows into U.S.-listed ETFs reached a record $78 billion in January, led by equity ETFs, which outflanked bond ETFs by more than 7-to-1, according to State Street Global Advisors.

In its latest monthly ETF flow report, SSGA reported that slightly less than $67 billion flowed into stock ETFs while just over $9 billion flowed into fixed income funds. Commodity and specialty ETFs split the remaining flows with less than $900 million inflows each.

About $40 billion, or 60% of equity ETF inflows, were directed into U.S. stock funds, supported by “euphoric exuberance” due to increased earnings expectations, writes Matthew Bartolini, head of SPDR Americas Research at State Street Global Advisors.

Large-cap equity ETFs, primarily those tracking the S&P 500, captured over 80% of those inflows. “This trend is indicative of the markets’ view on the impacts of tax reform (favoring corporations more than consumers),” writes Bartolini.

Most of the remaining equity ETF flows were deposited into developed international stocks and emerging market stock ETFs, with each category collecting about $9 billion. In addition, about $5 billion were directed into single country ETFs, and Asian countries accounted for 15 of the 20 top single country ETFs.

State Street says these international inflows reflect a trend of global synchronized growth and emerging market equity ETFs, in particular, benefit from a weak dollar, rising commodity prices and a resurgence in global trade.

Emerging market bonds, too, saw strong inflows — about $2.9 billion, or about twice the inflows into U.S. government ($1.5 billion) and inflation-protected bonds ($1.3 billion). Much of the emerging market bond inflows were directed toward local currency-denominated bonds whose fundamentals were strengthened by a weaker dollar and stronger commodities.  

Bond ETFs based on the aggregate index were the most popular in January, collecting almost $5 billion in inflows. Investors may be attracted to its yield, which is the highest since 2011 and approaching 3% yield to worst.

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