Inflows to emerging markets exchange traded funds have been climbing over the past five weeks with investors allocating capital to both equity-based and bond funds.
“After months of being ignored by investors, emerging market equity and fixed income ETFs were among the biggest asset gatherers during April. These two styles helped drive overall inflows to more than $20 billion for the month as investors added some risk to their portfolios, while balancing this out with exposure to value stocks and more defensive sectors,” said S&P Capital IQ in a recent research note.
The research points out that in April, equity-based emerging markets attracted $5 billion in new capital. Diversified funds such as the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) and the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) were among the leaders. Since the start of April, EEM, the second-largest emerging markets ETF, has seen inflows of nearly $4 billion while IEMG has brought in $356.1 million. [Cash Pours Into EM ETFs]
S&P Capital IQ has a marketweight rating on EEM and an overweight rating on IEMG. IEMG has accumulated $4.1 billion since coming to market in October 2012 due in part to its 0.18% annual expense ratio, one of the lowest among diversified emerging markets ETFs. [iShares Could Bolster Low-Cost Lineup]
Still, some investors are moving out of emerging markets ETFs. Earlier Friday, Bloomberg reported that the New Jersey Pension Fund has dramatically reduced its stake in the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) , the largest emerging markets ETF by assets, to “$109 million from $1.9 billion in 2012. Emerging-market equities made up 6.56 percent of the pension fund’s assets as of February, down from 7.65 percent four months earlier and under its target of 8 percent,” Boris Korby reports for Bloomberg. [Pension Fund Trims EM ETF Stakes]
However, investors that are returning to developing economy ETFs are not limiting that affection to stocks.
“Meanwhile, emerging market fixed income was the most popular bond investment style in April, gathering $640 million in assets,” said S&P Capital IQ.
Since the start of April, the iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (EMB) has hauled in about $196 million while the PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt Portfolio (PCY) has gained $86.8 million in new assets. [EM Bond ETFs Survive Turbulence]
Flows to emerging markets bond funds have been seen even as Brazil and Russia, often two of the largest country holdings in such ETFs, saw their sovereign credit ratings downgraded to BBB-, the lowest investment grade. S&P Capital IQ rates EMB marketweight.
On Thursday, Standard & Poor’s upgraded the Philippines to BBB better than the BBB- ratings sported by Brazil, India and Russia. Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P each upgraded the Philippines to investment-grade status last year. [Philippines ETF Soars Again]
This year, investors have allocated $52.6 million to the iShares MSCI Philippines ETF (EPHE) or 14.6% of the ETF’s current assets under management total.
iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF
Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM, EMB and IEMG.