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Cinthia Murphy, Managing Editor, ETF.com

Last year was challenging for U.S. stock investors, with the month of December, in particular, serving up a brutal finish. A look at the worst-performing ETFs of 2018 show that some funds fell as much as 92% in a year.

Without excluding leveraged and inverse strategies, the list of bottom performers among all 2,200-plus U.S.-listed ETFs is led by a strategy that shorts the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), the ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (SVXY). SVXY was down 92% in 2018.

If you take out geared and inverse strategies, poor performance was also widespread, with top bleeders dropping as much as 50%. Commodity ETFs like the VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (REMX) and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES) were the worst of this bunch.

Worst-Performing ETFs Of 2018 (all-encompassing)

Ticker

Fund

% Return

SVXY 

ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF

-91.75

GASL 

Direxion Daily Natural Gas Related Bull 3X Shares

-79.80

DGAZ 

VelocityShares 3X Inverse Natural Gas ETN

-78.49

GUSH 

Direxion Daily S&P Oil & Gas Exp. & Prod. Bull 3X Shares

-74.28

NAIL 

Direxion Daily Homebuilders & Supplies Bull 3X Shares

-73.96

OILU 

ProShares UltraPro 3x Crude Oil ETF

-63.82

UWT 

VelocityShares 3x Long Crude Oil ETN

-63.69

WTIU 

UBS ETRACS - ProShares Daily 3x Long Crude ETN

-63.50

CWEB 

Direxion Daily CSI China Internet Index Bull 2X Shares

-63.01

USOU 

United States 3x Oil Fund

-62.08

HOML 

ETRACS Monthly Reset 2xLeveraged ISE Exclusively Homebuilders ETN

-60.28

KORU 

Direxion Daily MSCI South Korea Bull 3X Shares

-59.90

LABU 

Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3X Shares

-57.60

DPST 

Direxion Daily Regional Banks Bull 3X Shares

-56.75

EXIV 

VelocityShares 1X Daily Inverse VSTOXX Futures ETN

-56.71

Worst-Performing ETFs Of 2018 (excluding leveraged/inverse/VIX ETPs)

Ticker

Fund

% Return

REMX 

VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF

-49.47

XES 

SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF

-46.99

OIH 

VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF

-44.98

PSCE 

Invesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETF

-42.98

IEZ 

iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF

-42.46

TUR

iShares MSCI Turkey ETF

-41.48

PXJ 

Invesco Dynamic Oil & Gas Services ETF

-39.82

CNXT

VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF

-39.48

SCIF 

VanEck Vectors India Small-Cap Index ETF

-37.41

SCIN 

Columbia India Small Cap ETF

-36.31

ASHS 

Xtrackers Harvest CSI 500 China-A Shares Small Cap ETF

-35.91

CQQQ 

Invesco China Technology ETF

-34.77

KWEB 

KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF

-33.88

AGT 

iShares MSCI Argentina and Global Exposure ETF

-32.69

AADR 

AdvisorShares Dorsey Wright ADR ETF

-31.54

Tables data measure total annual returns for 2018.

Despite the challenging market environment, investors poured a net of $315 billion into U.S.-listed ETFs in 2018—a close second to the ETF market’s record haul in a calendar year. That record stands at a net of $476.1 billion gathered in 2017.

Some of the biggest gainers last year were equity ETFs tapping into domestic stocks as well as international equities. Investors showed strong appetite for risk assets last year, with equity ETFs attracting more than $205 billion in 2018.

The U.S. ETF market ended the year with total assets of just under $3.4 trillion.

Top Gainers (2018)

Ticker

Name

Issuer

Net Flows ($,mm)

AUM ($M)

% of AUM

December 2018 Net Flows($,M)

IEFA

iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF

BlackRock

20,804.56

52,076.53

39.95%

860.27

IVV

iShares Core S&P 500 ETF

BlackRock

18,545.81

148,093.14

12.52%

2,304.09

IEMG

iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF

BlackRock

15,726.60

49,031.76

32.07%

1,377.31

VOO

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

Vanguard

13,938.13

89,746.25

15.53%

-2,040.86

SHV

iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF

BlackRock

12,694.07

20,687.81

61.36%

3,395.75

VTI

Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF

Vanguard

9,823.25

93,681.39

10.49%

2,003.29

VEA

Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF

Vanguard

9,551.29

64,829.81

14.73%

2,079.77

SHY

iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF

BlackRock

9,316.16

20,629.91

45.16%

3,381.76

VTV

Vanguard Value ETF

Vanguard

8,513.52

41,061.36

20.73%

1,199.05

BIL

SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF

State Street Global Advisors

6,628.21

8,571.24

77.33%

1,540.89

Asset Classes (2018)

Net Flows ($, mm)

AUM ($, mm)

% of AUM

U.S. Equity

135,717.05

1,872,625.44

7.24%

International Equity

69,644.17

731,511.39

9.54%

U.S. Fixed Income

87,755.52

589,853.63

14.97%

International Fixed Income

10,962.95

65,159.70

16.02%

Commodities ETFs

906.67

62,619.57

1.44%

Currency

-59.70

1,798.70

-3.32%

Leveraged

7,740.81

29,940.26

25.84%

Inverse

827.82

11,468.34

7.22%

Asset Allocation

1,509.17

9,317.76

16.20%

Alternatives

478.60

5,225.76

9.16%

Total:

315,483.08

3,379,520.54

9.33%

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NASDAQ, Inc.

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