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Retirement plan diversification improving, women take the lead

Women are less likely to take full advantage of a workplace retirement plan, but when they do, their portfolios are often more diversified, according to data released Tuesday by Wells Fargo & Co. Only about half of employed men and 43% of employed women are enrolled in a workplace retirement plan, according to the data, which was based on 2,036 companies. Moreover, most men and women are failing to meet the recommended benchmark for annual retirement savings contributions of 10% of income, including any employer match. Only 43% of men contribute at this annual rate. Among women, the number … [Read more...]

Vanguard beats BlackRock, taking in most money in 1Q

Vanguard's John Bogle Bloomberg The Vanguard Group Inc., the third-biggest provider of exchange-traded funds, has gained ground on larger competitors so far this year after gathering more than seven times as much money into its ETFs than the rest of the U.S. industry combined. Vanguard attracted $13.1 billion, or almost 90 percent of the money gathered by all U.S. ETFs in the quarter ended March 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Clients pulled a net $18.3 billion from ETFs run by State Street Corp., including $19 billion from the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust, known as the … [Read more...]

Another International Sector Suite Bites The Dust

March 31, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Closings Sector ETFs are popular.  International sector ETFs, not so much.  In fact, successfully maintaining a foreign sector ETF suite has proven to be nearly impossible.  The latest casualty is the 10-ETF All Country excluding US Sector Suite launched by iShares in 2010. As previously announced, March 25, 2014 was the last day of trading for: iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Consumer Discretionary (AXDI) iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Consumer Staples (AXSL) iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Energy (AXEN) iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Financials … [Read more...]

Russia Sanctions and U.S. Investment: A Silver Lining?

With Russia's annexation of Crimea prompting worrisome forecasts regarding Eastern Ukraine and the eventual effects of sanctions, what do these developments mean for U.S. investment in Russia? Russian markets reacted almost joyously to the announcement of the limited Western sanctions targeting a handful of top Russian officials (with more to come), with the Micex stock exchange rallying 3.7% on March 18. This came after the index fell 5% to a five-year low on March 14 due to fears of far tougher sanctions than those that have so far been unveiled. Still, according to Deputy Economy … [Read more...]

This Wasn’t Suppose To Happen: ETF Converts to Mutual Fund

March 31, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Closings Pax World launched the Pax MSCI EAFE ESG Index ETF (EAPS) in January 2011, and March 21, 2014 was its last of trading.  When ETFs close, the asset base is typically very small and very few shareholders are affected.  In the case of EAPS, assets were north of $64 million.  Additionally, Pax World decided not to liquidate this ETF after closing and delisting.  Instead, the ETF is converting into an old-fashioned traditional open-ended mutual fund.  Probably not something investors buying an ETF would expect. Those of you … [Read more...]

Investors scramble out of ETFs focused on U.S. Treasuries

iStock Investors of exchange-traded funds that buy U.S. government debt are signaling their conviction the Federal Reserve is intent on raising interest rates sooner rather than later. After pouring into the ETFs to start the year, investors pulled $10.3 billion in March, the biggest exodus since December 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The $7.86 billion iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF alone lost a third of its assets from withdrawals, the most of any fixed-income fund this month. The retreat shows how quickly ETF investors recalibrated expectations as Fed Chair Janet Yellen said … [Read more...]

The perfect storm: Why alts make sense

The modern financial advice industry may have never experienced a time when the case for allocating assets into alternative strategies made perfect sense. Until now. With the equity market at an all-time high, bond yields hovering near record lows, volatility spiking and global geopolitical risks rising, diversifying into products and strategies designed to hedge risk can mean that clients can sleep soundly at night. "This market is completely overvalued, or at least fairly valued, by almost every measure, and you know quantitative easing is coming off, so everyone has to reallocate. But how … [Read more...]

When the White House starts giving investment advice we’re all in trouble

When the White House starts dishing out advice about investing in the global equity markets, apparently short-sellers do not listen. And why should they? Regarding press secretary Jay Carney's March 18 comment that the only investments worth making in Russian equities are wagers that the market will decline, anyone paying attention wisely didn't pay attention. The Russian equity market, as measured by the Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX), the largest U.S. exchange traded fund tracking the Russian market, has fallen 8.7% since the start of the Crimean crisis in late February. But since Mr. … [Read more...]

Morgan Stanley to pay fine over CFTC customer-fund claims

Bloomberg News Morgan Stanley will pay $490,000 to settle U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission allegations that the company failed to adequately oversee customer funds. The bank’s Smith Barney futures brokerage in April 2013 transferred $16 million to the wrong type of account holding customer funds, resulting in a violation of CFTC rules, the agency said in a statement today announcing the settlement. Customers didn’t lose any funds as a result of the company’s failures in internal controls and supervision, the regulator said. In 2012, the brokerage also commingled customer and … [Read more...]

A Brief History Of A Doomed ETF

March 28, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Closings Claymore securities launched Claymore U.S. Capital Markets Bond ETF (UBD) back on February 12, 2008.  It had an interesting, if not successful, life as an exchange traded fund (“ETF”).  Due to its average daily volume of just 81 shares, it became a charter member of ETF Deathwatch in the inaugural September 2008 edition. On January 16, 2009, it was one of two ETFs singled out as having zero volume for the year-to-date period.  In February 2009, we pleaded openly to Please Put This ETF Out Of Its Misery when we … [Read more...]