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Q3 ETF Asset Flow Roundup: What's Hot & What's Not

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Despite escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions, emerging market meltdown especially in Turkey and Argentina, and rounds of tech sell-off, global stock indexes ended the third quarter on a positive note. American stocks were the biggest gainers backed by the dual tailwinds of solid corporate earnings and an improving economy. On the other hand, many emerging markets were in the red with China falling into a bear territory during the quarter (read: Are All of 'Fragile Five' EM ETFs Equally Frail?).

Meanwhile, the fixed income world has been mixed with 10-year Treasury yields traded at above 3% for most of the quarter due to inflationary pressures and faster-than-expected rate hike speculation.

Given this, we have highlighted several zones and their ETFs that have garnered enough investors’ interest while few that have shunned by investors.

U.S. Equities: A Hot Spot

The rounds of upbeat data have bolstered confidence in the U.S. economy, leading to massive inflows to the U.S. equities. In fact, these ETFs dominate the top 10 creation list with Vanguard S&P 500 (VOO - Free Report) and iShares Core S&P 500 ET (IVV - Free Report) leading the way, accumulating nearly $7 billion and $6.1 billion assets, respectively. Both the funds track the S&P 500 Index and have a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (Buy).

Vanguard Value ETF (VTV - Free Report) targeting the value corner of the broad U.S. stock market pulled in $2.7 billion in capital followed by SPDR S&P 500 (SPY - Free Report) with inflows of$2.6 billion. VTV has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) while SPY has a Zacks Rank #2. The Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) PowerShares QQQ Trust QQQ and iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF (IJR - Free Report) with a Zacks Rank #2 also remained hot, gathering more than $2 billion in AUM each. The former follows the Nasdaq-100 index while the latter targets the small cap segment by tracking the S&P SmallCap 600 Index. Strong dollar and escalating trade war fears has led investor to shift to small cap funds (read: Small-Caps Rule in August: Top-Performing ETFs).

America is witnessing the fastest pace of growth in nearly four years, with a nearly two-decade low unemployment rate of 3.9% and 18-year high consumer confidence. Historic tax cuts, higher government spending and deregulation are fueling growth. Additionally, the Fed is on track for gradual rate hikes this year, citing that the economy is strong and can handle a tighter monetary policy. The central bank, which began to tighten monetary policy in 2015, has raised rates thrice this year and is expected to do so again in December. A rising rate scenario also signals a strengthening economy, which is boosting confidence in the stock market.

A Hot Sector ETF

Acting as a defensive sector, Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV - Free Report) has gathered about $19.6 billion in its asset base in the third quarter. The ETF offers broad exposure to the healthcare sector and follows the Health Care Select Sector Index. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (read: Fed Hikes Rates as Expected: ETF Areas That Gained).

Emerging Market and Treasury Still Attractive

Though rising interest rates in the United States have led to a strong U.S. dollar and higher yields dampening the emerging market and Treasury bond appeal, respectively, iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF IEMG and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT - Free Report) still held attraction. The emerging market fund accumulated nearly $42.9 billion in its asset base while the long-term Treasury ETF gathered $2.7 billion in AUM. IEMG has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 and TLT has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) (read: Inverse EM ETFs to Gain as Currency Turmoil Deepens).

Gold Loses Luster

Gold lost all its sheen in the third quarter, thanks to rising interest rates and a strong dollar. In fact, the yellow metal recorded the fourth consecutive monthly decline in August, representing the longest stretch of losses since 2013. Though gold is generally perceived as a safe haven in times of economic or political turmoil, the long-standing trade gyrations have prompted investors to pick the U.S. dollar as the latest safety investment in a strong economy.

As such, SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD - Free Report) ), the world’s largest gold-backed ETF, led the redemption list of the third quarter with heavy outflow of nearly $3 billion. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (read: Gold in Longest 4-Year Losing Streak: Go Short with ETFs).

International ETFs Dulled

The escalating trade war tensions and a surge in dollar lowered the appeal for international investing last quarter. The iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA - Free Report) pulled out $2.8 billion in capital followed by outflows of $2.4 billion for iShares MSCI Japan ETF (EWJ - Free Report) , $1.4 billion for iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU - Free Report) and $1.2 billion for iShares MSCI Brazil ETF (EWZ - Free Report) .

EFA targets the developed market while EZU provides access to Euro zone stocks. EWJ and EWZ offer broad exposure to Japan and Brazilian stocks, respectively. EWZ has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) while the rest three funds have a Zacks ETF Rank of #3.

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