U.S.-listed ETFs posted net monthly outflows in June — for a third month in 2018, according to the State Street Global Advisors’ U.S. ETF Flash Flow report.
“This is the greatest number of months with outflows for a year since 2008, and we are only halfway through 2018!” according to Matthew Bartolini, head of SPDR Americas Research at State Street Global Advisors and author of the report. “One more month of net outflows and 2018 would tie the record of four reached a few times in the late nineties.”
Even with these three months of outflows, ETFs still saw $124 billion of net inflows, pushing total U.S.-listed ETF assets to more than $3.5 trillion.
Bartolini writes that flows were muted as trade tensions rattled investor sentiment — pushing global equities negative for the year and prompting investors to rotate out of stocks.
According to Bartolini, equities are the main reason for the choppy waters in ETF flows. Much like the broader industry, equities have also posted three months of outflows in 2018.
“The challenging market environment has clearly constricted momentum and weighed on sentiment,” according to Bartolini. “In February and March it was U.S. equities, now the other side of the pond is wiping out.”
According to the report, international and emerging market funds registered their largest back-to-back months of outflows since the start of 2016. International equities saw outflows, totaling $3.3 and $9.9 billion in May and June, respectively. Emerging markets accounted for 69% of June’s negative international total.
Meanwhile, fixed income continues to see inflows. Fixed income ETFs attracted $7.4 billion of inflows during June, which marked the 35th consecutive month of inflows.
Bartolini writes that this positivity is a result of a secular trend of more investors turning to ETFs for fixed income exposure, as well as the ever-present need for income due to demographic shifts.
Another reason for the fixed income flows, according to Bartolini, could be a more tactical trend of “investors buffeting market risk from a seemingly ageless bull market by seeking out bonds for portfolio ballast.”
Fixed income’s positive flows were led by government and short duration corporates; however, high yield posted outflows for the fourth month this year.