Tag Archives: iPath

Amid Turmoil, ETF Firms Bring Out New Funds

Well it seems that even amid the turmoil in the broader market and the closing of funds in the ETF industry, new funds are launched every week. Over the previous two weeks, we’ve seen a new airline ETF from Claymore Securities, State Street Global Advisors and BGI both launching two new bond ETFs and Barclays Bank launching two new exchange-traded notes.

This week, Van Eck Global’s ETF family, the Market Vectors, launched two funds. The Market Vectors High-Yield Municipal Index ETF (HYD) launched today on the NYSE Arca, following on the heels of Tuesday’s launched, the Market Vectors Pre-Refunded Municipal Index ETF (PRB) with an expense ratio of 0.24%

HYD will track the Barclays Capital Municipal Custom High Yield Composite Index. This high yield index is a market-size weighted index comprised of publicly traded municipal bonds covering the high-yield long-term tax-exempt bond market.

Van Eck says PRB is the nation’s first ETF to focus on the pre-refunded segment of the municipal bond market and will track the Barclays Capital Municipal Pre-Refunded—Treasury-Escrowed Index. This market-size weighted index holds publicly traded tax-exempt municipal bonds. The unique part about it is the index is comprised of “pre-refunded and/or escrowed-to-maturity bonds.” Heather Bell of Index Universe describes the bonds this way: “Say a city issues $100 million worth of bonds to fund a water facilities project. A few years ago, the deal came to market with interest payments to investors of 6%. But now, with interest rates for 30-year triple-A munis hovering around 5%, the city decides to cut its costs. So it reissues more bonds at the lower rates covering the exact same project. The municipality then takes the proceeds from that second issue and buys similar-termed Treasuries. Since most munis have call features prior to maturity, the Treasuries are put in an escrow account to fully fund the interest and principal of the munis on their first call dates.”

I will address the new ETNs in a later posting.

ETFs See Cash Inflows Even as Asset Values Fall

ETFs and ETNs continue to see net cash inflows even as total assets under management fall. The conclusion is this is a function of just falling asset values.

According to the National Stock Exchange (NSX), at the end of November, total U.S. listed ETF and ETN assets fell 16.8% to $487.6 billion from $585.8 billion in November 2007. However, net cash inflows for the month were $26.4 billion, bringing the total net cash flow for the 11 months through Nov. 30 to $136.8 billion. In November, 315 ETFs saw net cash inflows, while 179 saw outflows. ETNs split at 16 each.

Notional trading volume in both ETFs and ETNs fell 33% in November from October to $2.2 trillion. Surprisingly, this represents a record 43% of all U.S. equity trading volume, up from 38% in October. That just shows how much total equity volume must have fallen off. At the end of November 2008, the number of listed products totaled 843, compared with 650 listed products one year ago and 806 in October.
According to the NSX, the only ETF firms that saw assets grow are State Street Global Advisers, ProShares, Van Eck and

Ameristock/Victoria Bay. All those firms saw net cash inflows for the year through Nov. 30 increase compared with the first 11 months of 2007. Vanguard did as well. ProShares’s assets under management rocketed 112% to $20.9 billion. SSGA’s assets grew 8.3% to $142.9 billion. This really shouldn’t be a surprise. ProShares sponsors the inverse and leveraged ETFs that have proved hugely popular in the market turmoil. SSGA sells the largest, most liquid ETF, the SPDR (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500. Many investors making a flight to safety or seeking a place to hold cash on a temporary basis will move to the S&P 500. Even as the S&P 500 sinks, the SPDR’s 2008 net cash inflows have surged 86% year-over-year through Nov. 30 to $18.23 billion.

Meanwhile, BGI’s iShares saw assets tumbled 29% to $229.3 billion.

Firms with net cash outflows in November included PowerShares, $309 million, and Merrill Lynch’s HOLDRs, which saw redemptions of $889 million. Surprisingly, the HOLDRs saw net cash outflows of $3.6 billion in 2007, but are up $1.2 billion so far this year. Other firms that experienced outflows in November were WisdomTree, FirstTrust, and SPA-ETF. Firms with net outflows year-to-date include Bank of New York, Rydex, X-Shares, Ziegler, FocusShares and BearStearns. The last two have gone out of business this year. Rydex is suffering as the strengthening dollar hurts its CurrencyShares.

As for ETNs, Barclay’s iPath family saw assets plunge 36% to $2.6 billion. In November, iPath saw outflows of $39 million. Morgan Stanley/Van Eck ETNs recorded outflows of $16 million in November. Meanwhile, Goldman Sach’s ETNs net cash outflows grew to $97 million year-to-date. Comparisons are not relevant for many of the other ETN firms as they had few funds, if any, last year.

Among the top ten ETFs and ETNs, the SPDR (SPY), iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (EFA), SPDR Equity Gold (GLD), iShares S&P 500 Index Fund (IVV), iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index Fund (IWF) and iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (IWM) all saw net cash inflows in November, according the NSX. Of the 10 largest funds, these saw outflows last month: iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), PowerShares QQQ (QQQQ), iShares Barclays Aggregate Bond Fund (AGG) and the Dow Diamonds (DIA).

The NYSE Group also releases volume data for its exchanges. Average daily matched volume for ETFs, or the total number of shares of ETFs executed on the entire NYSE Group’s exchanges surged 93.5% to 672 million shares from 347 million shares in November 2007. Total matched volume for the month totaled 12,765 million shares, a 75.1% increase. Total volume year-to-date through Nov. 30 jumped 74.7% from the same period last year to 102,583 million shares.

Handled volume, which represents the total number of shares of equity securities and ETFs internally matched on the NYSE Group’s exchanges or routed to and executed at an external market center, totaled 14,813 million shares last month, a 77.6% surge over the year-ago month. Average daily handled volume rocketed 96.3% to 780 million shares from 397 million shares a year ago. Year-to-date total volume climbed 78.1% to 117,629 million shares.

The NYSE also reported total ETF consolidated volume for the month leapt 92.1% to 45,151 million shares, while total average daily volume soared 112.3% to 2,376 million shares. Year-to-date, total consolidated ETF volume surged 119.4% over the first 11 months of 2007 to 355,133 million shares. I think those refer just to the NYSE Group.

ETNs Vs. ETFs

The media has been comparing exchange-traded notes and exchange-traded funds since the first ETN launched in 2006. By now, the outlines of the argument are clear.

ETNs claim to have three big advantages over ETFs: zero tracking error, access to difficult-to-reach markets and greater tax efficiency. Likewise, they come with one major drawback: They are credit instruments and, as such, subject to credit risk.

The reality is that, for most investors and in most situations, the question of which is the better product is moot. The majority of ETNs exist in markets where ETFs do not exist, and vice versa, so weighing issues like tracking error vs. credit risk is pointless. If you want to invest in certain commodities, countries or strategies, ETNs are the only choice.

That is slowly changing as both markets expand, however: ETFs are honing in on territory previously the sole domain of ETNs, while ETNs are intruding on territory formally occupied only by ETFs. And some of the biggest ETNs do compete in areas where ETFs exist. As a result, the question of which is better is becoming very real.

This is made all the more important by the fact that it is often easier and faster for companies to launch ETNs than ETFs. Some wonder if ETN issuers are rushing products into the space just to be the first one out of the box.

“Time to market is always a factor in decision making, so if you could track the same asset in a fund or a note, there could be a competitive advantage to getting it out more quickly with a note,” said Kevin Rich, managing director in Global Markets Investment Products at Deutsche Bank. “From the issuer’s perspective, notes can offer a more expedient process in the way you interact with the regulators on listing, and investors benefit by having [access] to the product sooner. At the end of the day, if a better product comes out, people will vote with their assets.”

“In general, the first-mover advantage is helpful,” said Philippe El-Asmar, managing director of Barclays Bank’s iPath family of ETFs. “But it doesn’t determine success. It matters whether investors want to take the tracking error vs. the credit risk.”

So which should they want?

This story was originally published in ETF Report. For the full article click here.

Barclays Says It’s Well Capitalized

As the world-wide liquidity crisis deepened, rumors floated around that Barclays, the creator of the iShares ETFs and iPath ETNs was planning on asking the British government for capital.  On Oct. 7, Barclays CEO John Varney denied it.

Today, Barclays released an Oct. 8 statement from the British government about discussions between the bank and the U.K. Financial Services Authority (FSA) and British Treasury.

Barclays says it is well capitalized, profitable and has access to the liquidity required to support its business. The bank said given the strength of its well-diversified business and the existing capital base, the regulators expect that Barclays can raise additional capital from investors and not need help from the government funding offered to other U.K. Banks.

Barclays seems pretty stable amidst the turmoil at other banks. So, investors in iPath ETNs should be safe. However, other financial institutions did say things were just hunky dory just before they went belly up, so let’s see how the market takes this.

Why didn’t the oil ETFs surge when oil spiked $25?

Oil prices saw the biggest one-day jump ever on Monday as the front month crude-oil contract rocketed more than $25 a barrel to $130 in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. By the end of the day, the October contract for light, sweet crude fell off its highs to close at $120.92, a 13.8% jump of $16.37.

So why did the oil ETFs and ETNs post percentage gains much less than half that?

· United States Oil (USO), a commodity pool which holds futures, leapt 6.03% to $87.62.
· iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index (OIL), an exchange-traded note, jumped 5.6% to $64.57.
· Macroshares $100 Oil (UOY), which bet on the oil market through U.S. Treasurys, climbed 4.1% to $26.68
· PowerShares DB Oil Fund (DBO), a commodity pool which holds futures, rose 2.5% to $40.99
· The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE), which holds oil stocks, actually fell 1.8% to $70.

There were a multitude of reasons for the oil spike. Fears over the government’s $700 billion bailout plan and the potential inflation sent the dollar plunging. And lately, oil has been moving inversely to the dollar.

“Basically, there’s a strong negative correlation between the dollar and oil,” says Douglas Hepworth, director of research at Gresham Investment Management, a New York money manager. “It becomes a self fulfilling trading artifact. When the dollar is up, operators sell oil, and when oil is up, people sell the dollar. And the dollar was sold in the sentiment that if this new $700 billion dollar bailout is socialism, do we really want to hold dollars?”

In addition, oil fields in Texas and Louisiana are still shut down because of Hurricane Ike. Platforms are still out of commission in the Gulf of Mexico and companies need to check the pipelines to make sure they’re not leaking. These are coming back on line slowly. So, there was a real short-term squeeze on inventory and companies were tapping into the strategic oil reserve.

In addition, Monday, was the day the October contract expired. So, if you wanted oil for delivery on Oct. 1 you needed to get in the market. And if you wanted to not be holding, you needed to sell or close a position. This was the last chance for refineries and other oil companies to buy and get delivery next week. It created a short squeeze and sent the price of crude soaring.

At the end of Monday’s session, the November contract was scheduled to become the front-month contract, so some investors thought there might be a play to profit on here.

So, why didn’t the oil ETFs see a similar rise?

They didn’t own the October contract.

“USO along with the other commodities ETFs doesn’t own the contract up until the expiration,” says John Hyland, the portfolio manager of USO. So, while the October contract closed up 14.78%, USO owned the November contract which only rose 6.44%. At the end of the day, USO’s NAV was up 6.46%

Hyland says all the commodity ETFs had sold the contract one or two weeks ago. The commodities ETFs don’t hold the front-month contract until the expiration because it’s too risky. He says “unless you’re an oil company and you want to take deliver you would never want to hold them the last week. The last week is mostly trading by oil companies and revenue, someone who will actually get delivery.” If the ETF held the contract on Monday, it was going to have to take delivery of actual oil and none of them want to do that. Where do you store it?

So, it’s normal for the ETF to roll out of the front-month contract and into the second-month in the last two weeks to the movement.

“You won’t see anyone on the last day of trading a contract who is not in the physical market,” says Gresham’s Hepworth. “You basically play a game where you have to make or take delivery. You might occasionally see someone inexperienced who has a position on the last trading day. Well, they will never do that again.”

Hepworth says the October market was an illusion with just a few players playing a high stakes game of poker. The ETFs mirrored the real market, which was the November contract.

Anonymous sources said that high stakes poker game was being played by Chevron, ExxonMobile and BP. Rumor has it that BP was short and needed oil for its October operations and that the other two took them to the cleaners.