Geopolitical tensions, oil price movement and President Trump’s protectionist trade announcements hit the headlines in Q2. The President made impactful announcements pertaining to deregulations, trade relations with other countries and sanctions against countries like Iran and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the Fed enacted a rate hike and provided a hawkish guidance and OPEC members agreed on a modest output raise. These key developments left a profound impact on investors. Emerging markets saw acute selloffs. Expectations for synchronized global growth also started dwindling. Global equity funds recorded outflows of $12.4 billion in June, not seen since October 2008, according to market research firm TrimTabs.Let’s see how investors reacted to this situation and where they parked their money in Q2. The data are as of etf.com (as of Jun 28, 2018).
S&P 500 Unfazed by Sell-Offs
Thanks to upbeat earnings, the S&P 500 hauled in considerable assets. This trend benefited S&P 500-based ETFs like iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV - Free Report) and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO. These attracted about $3.64 billion and $1.86 billion in assets, respectively, in the quarter.
Small-caps have been on a tear in Q2 clearly outperforming its larger counterparts. President Trump’s protectionist agenda and the resultant trade war fears started weighing on large-cap stocks (as these have wider international exposure) and boosted small-cap equities. An upbeat U.S. economy and a stronger dollar also veered investors to this segment. iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF (IJR - Free Report) added about $3.46 billion in the quarter.
Short-Term Treasury Bonds Swell Too
iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF (SHV - Free Report) accumulated about $3.57 billion in the quarter. Since long-term bonds are hurt more in a rising-rate environment, investors are inclined toward this segment (read: 6 Ways to Build a Rate-Proof Portfolio With ETFs).
Floating Rate Bonds Make it to the Winning List
Floating rate notes are investment grade bonds that do not pay a fixed rate to investors but have variable coupon rates that are often tied to an underlying index (such as LIBOR) plus a variable spread depending on the credit risk of the issuers. Since the coupons of these bonds are adjusted periodically, they are less sensitive to an increase in rates compared to traditional bonds. As a result, iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT - Free Report) gathered about $2.51 billion in Q2 thanks to the rising rate concerns (read: Hedge Rising Rates with Floating Rate ETFs).
TIPS Gaining Favor
Given the rising inflationary expectations in the United States, investors poured about $2.21 billion in assets in Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP - Free Report) .
Low-Cost Emerging Market ETF Also Gains Assets
Though Q2 saw a bloodbath in emerging markets as a stronger dollar and tensions related to the trade conflict remained an overhang, iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) managed to rake in about $1.84 billion in assets. On the other hand, iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM - Free Report) lost about $8.08 billion in assets. This is probably because of the fact IEMG (0.14% expense ratio) charges a lot less than EEM (0.69% expense ratio) (read: $8 Trillion Worth of EM Stocks in a Bear Market: ETFs to Play).
Europe Saw Funds Gushing Out
Political crisis mainly emanated from Italy and Spain, not-so-upbeat earnings results, slower economic growth and Trump’s announcement of levying duties on steel and aluminum imports from EU made investors skeptical about Eurozone investment. The ECB also announced the end of QE by the end of this year. iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU - Free Report) thus saw an exodus of about $3.05 billion in assets while Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK - Free Report) saw an outflow of $1.49 billion (read: Profit from Roman Impasse With These Global Inverse ETFs).
Japan Too is Out of Favor
Likely pressure on the Auto sector thanks to Trump tariff and continued deflationary pressure has kept the outlook of Japan investing murky. iShares MSCI Japan ETF (EWJ - Free Report) thus lost about $2.04 billion in assets.
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