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ETF Specialist

Big March Inflows Make the First Quarter One for the ETF Record Books

Investors continue to pour into stock ETFs, and Vanguard extends its streak atop the flows standings.

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Stocks carried their momentum from a strong February into March 2021. The Morningstar Global Markets Index--a broad gauge of global equities--gained 2.54% last month after climbing 2.59% the month prior. Bonds continued to sputter, as rising yields pushed their prices lower. The Morningstar US Core Bond Index slid 0.98%, marking its third consecutive month of losses.

After bond exchange-traded funds dominated inflows for most of 2020, the tide has turned in favor of stock ETFs. They absorbed another $77.8 billion in March, bringing year-to-date net flows to $199.0 billion. Stock ETFs tallied $231.8 billion in flows in all of 2020. Inflows into all ETFs summed to $90.1 billion last month, which fell shy of the $91.4 billion record set in November 2020. While March flows fell just shy of setting a new record, they capped off a record quarter. The $245.9 billion that flowed into all ETFs in the first quarter shattered the prior record of $194.9 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2020 and nearly doubled the prior first-quarter record of $133.8 billion set in 2017.

Ryan Jackson does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.