International ETFs Top First-Half Asset Flows

The global stock market has hit multiple highs on several occasions this year, but the real encouragement has come from international investing. This is because a pickup in economic activity in many parts of the world, jump in commodity prices, robust corporate earnings and improving global sentiments are instilling confidence in international markets.

Additionally, the Trump upheaval and spate of weak U.S. economic data lately pushed investors to foreign stocks from the U.S. In fact, the International Monetary Fund recently cut the growth forecast for the U.S. to 2.1% from the previous estimate of 2.3% for this year, citing uncertainty surrounding Trump reforms (read: IMF Lowers U.S. Growth Outlook: International ETFs to Buy).

Further, Europe and Britain are on track to end the cheap monetary policy era, in-line with the Fed policy of tightening its stimulus program. The converging policies have pushed the U.S. dollar lower and other currencies higher, making international investing tempting.

Given this, international products have seen solid inflows in the first half of this year, as per ETF.com.

One of the popular emerging market funds – iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG - Free Report) – led the way, gathering more than $10.9 billion in capital. This boosted the fund’s asset base to over $32.5 billion. This ETF follows the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index and offers diversified exposure to 1,884 securities with each holding less than 3.9% share. Information technology (24.5%) and financials (21.2%) are the top two sectors, followed by consumer discretionary (11.4%).

In terms of country holdings, about one-fourth of the portfolio goes to Chinese firms while South Korea and Taiwan round off the next two spots with a double-digit exposure each. IEMG charges 14 bps in annual fees and trades in average daily volume of around 7.8 million shares. It surged 19.5% in the first half and has a Zacks ETF Rank of 3 or ‘Hold’ rating with a Medium risk outlook (read: Follow Gundlach's Insight with These ETFs).

The ultra-popular developed market ETF — iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA - Free Report) — saw inflows of $9.5 million. The fund offers exposure to stocks in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Far East by tracking the MSCI EAFE Index. It holds 934 securities in its basket with each holding less than 2% of assets. Japan, United Kingdom and France make up for the top three countries with double-digit exposure each. From a sector look, financials takes the top spot at 21.1% while industrials, consumer discretionary, consumer staples and health care round off the top five.

The product has amassed $76.9 billion in AUM and trades in heavy volume of 19.8 million shares a day on average. Expense ratio comes in at 0.33%. The ETF added 15.8% in the first half and has a Zacks ETF Rank of 2 or Buy rating with a Medium risk outlook (read: If the Trump Trade Falters, Where Should Investors Look for Profits Instead?).

Another developed market fund – iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA - Free Report) – with an asset base of around $27.4 billion and average daily volume of about 4.3 million shares, pulled in more than $9.5 billion in capital in the first half. It tracks the MSCI EAFE IMI Index, holding 2,531 stocks in its basket, with each accounting for less than 1.7% share. Japan takes the top spot in terms of country exposure at 24.3%, closely followed by United Kingdom (17.5%). Here again, financials, industrials, consumer discretionary, consumer staples and health care make up for top five sectors with a double-digit exposure each. The fund charges 8 bps in annual fees and has gained 16.3% this year. It has a Zacks ETF Rank of 2 with a Low risk outlook.

Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA - Free Report) accumulated nearly $9 billion, propelling its AUM to $55.2 billion. This fund tracks the FTSE Developed All Cap ex US Index, holding 3820 stocks in its basket with none making up for more than 1.4% of assets. Again, Japan and United Kingdom are the top two countries, and financials, industrials, consumer discretionary and consumer staples make up for double-digit exposure each in terms of sector allocation. It charges just 7 bps in fees per year and trades in heavy volume of 8.4 million shares on average. It has a Zacks ETF Rank of 2 with a Low risk outlook (read:Global ETFs Gather $4 Trillion AUM: What's Behind the Boom?).

S&P 500 ETF Saw Mixed Reactions

The ETFs that track the S&P 500 index saw mixed reactions from investors. This is especially true given that SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY - Free Report) is leading the redemptions list with more than $5.6 billion in outflows while iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV - Free Report) is the top asset creator of the first half, having accumulated nearly $16.9 billion.

Additionally, Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VIOO - Free Report) also pulled in $8.5 billion in capital during the first half.

Disclosure: Zacks.com contains statements and statistics that have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but are not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness. References to any specific ...

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